Son of refugees proud to be part of Team USA’s ‘patchwork’ of diversity

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — If it weren’t for the restrictions on what can be bought with food stamps, Allen Tran may never have found his way to be the man in charge of nutrition for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.

The son of refugees, Tran wondered why his mother didn’t buy the popular sugar frosted cereal that all of his friends seemed to be enjoying.

“We were on food stamps,” said Tran, who was born in Chicago’s inner city after his family fled post-war Vietnam in the 1970s. “As part of that, you were restricted to what kind of food you could buy. It had to be nutritious. So I wanted to know why do I have to get this and not that? Why did I have to eat Total instead of Frosted Flakes?”

His parents were very conscientious of food, and they took the opportunity to discuss nutrition with their young son.

“My dad was an incredible cook at home,” Tran said. “That interest in food and nutrition was piqued early on for me.”

Tran is part of the team behind the U.S. Olympic team in Pyeongchang. While the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team accounts for 108 of the 244 American athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Games, the Park City-based national governing body enlists the help of about 120 support personnel.

For the 22 alpine athletes — three of whom are from Utah in Holladay’s Jared Goldberg, Park City’s Ted Ligety, and Park City’s Megan McJames — U.S. Ski and Snowboard has nearly 50 people “looking out for athletes,” according to alpine team director Patrick Riml.

“From coaches working with athletes, technicians, physios, conditioning coaches, sports science people and nutrition, there are about 50 people just looking out for our athletes on the alpine side,” he said.

Tran, 32, is the U.S. Ski Team chef, and he recently shared his thoughts on how his family’s struggle to find a peaceful place to live…

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