If we've learned anything with increased coverage, we've learned that Team USA's athletes and teams are rarely leading dull lives. Whether it's training hard or goofing around, eating right or oh-so-wrong (for a treat, of course), supporting friends or celebrating victory, they've allowed us a window to their sporting souls. Each week we'll catch you up on some of the lighter moments or lighter takes on the news — often from their very own perspective — that make Team USA so compelling.
Timelines blew up this past week with posts dedicated to the social media friendly holiday of Siblings Day. (According to Wikipedia, there is also a Siblings Day Foundation, so we'll see whether that lobby can push the popularity near Mother's Day or Father's Day status.) In any event, Team USA athletes were quick to add momentum to the holiday. Figure skaters, in particular, provided us some gems.
Two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan, who on May 17 will present the commencement address at Salve Regina in Newport, Rhode Island, posted this adorable shot with brother Ron and sister Karen.
Two-time Olympian Jeremy Abbott earned extra credit for singing with and then possibly embarrassing his sister, Gwen, with a spirited, head-bopping, car-dancing celebration of Katy Perry's "Birthday." Good luck getting the lyrics out of your head:
2014 Olympian Gracie Gold not only has a sibling to celebrate, but also a fraternal twin in sister Carly. Gracie tossed in the #wombmates hashtag for good measure:
A Tradition Like No Other
With golf returning to the Olympic program for the first time since 1904, major tournaments leading to Rio 2016 bear watching, particularly majors where a young player wins his first green jacket. In Rio, the top 15 players in the world at the time will qualify for the field of 60, but the spots will be limited to four per country. Making his way up the rankings over the weekend: Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old Texan who set scoring records along the way to winning the Masters over the weekend in Augusta, Georgia.
He admitted on Saturday that he was out to avenge his loss to fellow American Bubba Watson at the 2014 Masters, and, heading into the event, the uncommonly composed Spieth offered this simple entry:
It's Masters week.— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) April 6, 2015
Spieth finished at -18 under, ahead of fellow Americans Phil Mickelson (tied for second -14), Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan (all tied for sixth -9). Coming out of the event, Spieth certainly caught the attention of many elite athletes, including now-retired Team USA Olympic tennis star Andy Roddick.
Had a blast watching @JordanSpieth this weekend ! Quality all around. Congrats!— andyroddick (@andyroddick) April 13, 2015
Julia Mancuso Knows How To Wind Down
We checked in with Julia Mancuso a week ago near the beginning of her trip to Alaska, and her fun has continued in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Selfie stick in full effect:
Humbled by natures pure energy. Love exploring with this wild lady:) Sierra QuitiquitPosted by Julia Mancuso on Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The adventuring continues until the sky gets blue:) the waiting game in skiing big lines in Alaska is real:) but the best thing is the incredible stuff you can do! Floating the KenaiPosted by Julia Mancuso on Saturday, April 11, 2015
Megan Rapinoe Knows How To Gear Up
Olympic soccer gold medalist Megan Rapinoe's internal clock is dialed in on June 6-July 5 and her internal compass has at least a casual setting on Canada, which will host the FIFA Women's World Cup. Team USA opens on June 8 against Australia in Winnipeg. Rapinoe, as she points out, is just a tad excited about the countdown. Just a tad.
Rapinoe also makes it clear she's willing to chirp her mother, who could have used some IT admin help this past week:
Winning Looks Good On Gillies
When it came to the possibility of winning a national title in hockey, the odds weren't quite in Providence College's favor. First, the program was ranked near the bottom of the NCAA tournament's playoff pool. But it managed to advance to the Frozen Four. Then, the program, after advancing to the final, would have to face national power and one of the tournament's top seeds, Boston University, in, of all cities, Boston. And, to make things more difficult, PC was down, 3-2, in the third period.
Somewhat improbably, though, the Friars won their first NCAA hockey title over the weekend, courtesy of a come-from-behind win over the BU Terriers and perhaps the United States' next hockey star, Jack Eichel. Eichel, the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team star who as a freshman was named college hockey's best player on Friday, was held to an assist in Saturday's finale.
Meanwhile, two-time junior national team goalie (2013 and 2014) Jon Gillies, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder from Maine, made a career-high 49 saves for Providence and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Gillies joined former Friars and Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games goalie Chris Terreri as Frozen Four Most Outstanding Players from Providence.
PC's performance also brought the Rhode Island pride out of the noted Ocean State movie-making Farrelly Brothers:
Neer been prouder of my Friars!!!!#gofriars— Farrelly Brothers (@farrellybros) April 12, 2015
If the Masters can be considered a tradition like no other, baseball can be considered a season like no other. Major League Baseball teams set sail each April on a 162-game odyssey that doesn't end until the fall. Teams are on the road half the season, playing nearly every day, staying in a city for a few days at a time before dashing out to the next MLB stop. Simply, it's a grind. And, on the eve of that grind, one could be forgiven for wanting to hold on to what's left of the offseason.
Even the wives get into the act. The wife of Billy Butler, himself a member of the 2005 and 2006 Olympic Qualifier Team, enjoyed the final few hours in wine country, not far from where Butler opened his first season in the Bay Area as a member of the Oakland A's.