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How would Utah have done as its own country in the Winter Olympics?

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25 2014 5:30 p.m. MST

Men's giant slalom gold medalist Ted Ligety of the United States poses for photographers with the American flag on the podium at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Men's giant slalom gold medalist Ted Ligety of the United States poses for photographers with the American flag on the podium at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It’s no secret that Utah is home to many Winter Olympic athletes. After all, it claims to have “the greatest snow on Earth,” so it should produce, or at least host, the greatest winter athletes on Earth.

Utah would certainly be competitive in the Winter Olympics if it were its own country. But in these Olympics, if every athlete with a Utah tie competed for the “country” of Utah, Utah would have finished No. 10 overall in the medal count with 11. Those athletes accounted for five gold medals, four silver medals and two bronze medals.

One aspect of Utah that is so appealing to athletes is Westminster College. Westminster has a tuition-grant waiver for U.S. Ski and Snowboarder Association athletes, and according to Lee Benson, that translates into “Come to Westminster, dude, and we’ll pay your tuition.” Twenty-three students from Westminster represent the U.S. in the Olympics, including medal winners Devin Logan and Kaitlyn Farrington.

Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States cries during the flower ceremony after winning the silver medal during the women's skeleton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) (Dita Alangkara, AP) Noelle Pikus-Pace of the United States cries during the flower ceremony after winning the silver medal during the women's skeleton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) (Dita Alangkara, AP)

Salt Lake City is also home to the USS national headquarters. Although the U.S. speedskating team has faltered in these Olympics and failed to win a medal so far, the team is considered strong.

“To date, U.S. Speedskating (members have) won 85 Olympic Winter Games medals, making it the most successful sport in the United States,” according to the organizations' website.

Of course, previously hosting the Olympics helped Utah immensely. To complement the state's ski and snowboard resorts, Utah received world-class courses for nearly every winter sport. Any athlete serious about training would want to be in or near Utah, observers indicate.

Utah by itself would be competitive on an international level. The athletes from Utah and the training facilities that attract many athletes has helped the United States to the most medals in the Olympics so far.

Former Olympian Shannon Bahrke as the legacy of the 2002 Winter Games and the success of the 2010 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams is celebrated in a new Hometown Heroes exhibit at the Utah Olympic Park honoring 2002 silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (2010 moguls bronze) Steven Holcomb (2010 bobsled gold) and Brett Camerota (2010 Nordic combined silver) and Paralympic medalist Stephani Victor (2010 Alpine gold and silver), Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, in Park City, Utah.    (Tom Smart, Tom Smart, Deseret News) Former Olympian Shannon Bahrke as the legacy of the 2002 Winter Games and the success of the 2010 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams is celebrated in a new Hometown Heroes exhibit at the Utah Olympic Park honoring 2002 silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (2010 moguls bronze) Steven Holcomb (2010 bobsled gold) and Brett Camerota (2010 Nordic combined silver) and Paralympic medalist Stephani Victor (2010 Alpine gold and silver), Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, in Park City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Medals won by athletes with Utah ties include:

Joss Christensen—gold

Kaitlyn Farrington—gold

Sage Kostenburg—gold

Ted Ligety—gold

Maddie Bowman—gold

Devin Logan—silver

Noelle Pikus-Pace—silver

J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Chris Creveling, Jordan Malone (5000m short track relay team) —silver

Lea Ann Parsley competed for the U.S. in the women's skeleton in the 2002 Winter Games in Utah. She won a silver medal.     (Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz,) Lea Ann Parsley competed for the U.S. in the women's skeleton in the 2002 Winter Games in Utah. She won a silver medal. (Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz,)

Torah Bright—silver (Australia)

Chris Fogt and Steve Holcomb (two-man bobsled)—bronze

Julia Mancuso—bronze

Follow Trent on Twitter @TheRealTrento.

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