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Red, White & Trending: Dec. 11-17

By Jamie MacDonald | Dec. 18, 2015, 2:50 p.m. (ET)

What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians, hopefuls and more — up to when they're not competing? They're training. They're practicing. They're traveling to competitions and meets and games and tournaments. They're relaxing. They're getting engaged and married. They're taking hard-earned vacations. They're coping with the raw emotions that come from losing and winning. And they're sharing. Through the reach of social media, we're able to follow along on their often extraordinary journeys. We'll catch you up each week on what's "Red, White & Trending."


Abby Wambach knows how to make an … exit. The highest scoring player in women's soccer history has been celebrated much of this week, in time for her final Team USA game on Wednesday night in New Orleans. During the game, she went scoreless in more than 70 minutes of play, a coincidence she intimated was part of why the timing for her to walk away is right. And when it comes to walking away, she had already made some powerful statements earlier on the day of her finale. In addition to a powerful video with a "forget me" message, she also deleted her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Then she went full mic-drop during a post-game farewell speech:

Her teammates, of course, brought out the kind words (along with some tears for a video shoot):

… And some nostalgia, too:

Dec. 16 is your day! You are truly the #goat. #thanksabby for being you!

A photo posted by christierampone3 (@christierampone3) on

One of my favorite moments ever. This team will never be the same without you. Today is an emotional one. Love you ab.

A photo posted by Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) on

After that final night in New Orleans, Wambach did make it back to Rochester, New York, for a Thursday evening event in her honor.

Her hometown paper also covered the event, for which Wambach wore a T-shirt reading, "Be a good person."

The Jammies Game Is Strong With This One

Speaking of the women's national team, while the group was in New Orleans, Alex Morgan found an excuse to celebrate the season a week early, earning more than 160,000 likes on Instagram in the process.

Getting in the Christmas spirit with these gems

A photo posted by Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) on

Shoe News

Overall, not a bad week in transportation for defending Olympic champion and world-record holder in the decathlon Ashton Eaton. In addition to an auto thrill ride he took with his wife during an off-day, he also saw the release of a limited-edition shoe to honor the breaking of his own world record this past summer. "Put on 1st prototype and demanded them," he tweeted. "Still haven't taken them off."

Road To … Recovery

Though her hopes of another championship season have been dashed, Mikaela Shiffrin is back stateside. And she learned "good news" from a physician visit on Tuesday: "No additional injury from what we already knew. I have bone bruising and an MCL tear." On the other hand, as she admitted via Facebook, "I know lots of people are anxious to predict when I might return to skiing and then racing, but we just don't have any crystal balls. I will work as hard as possible, take it week by week and keep everyone updated. Thank you for the incredible support- I feel the love."

A few days earlier, the defending Olympic slalom champion fell during a warm-up run in Åre, Sweden. Already, even if she doesn't compete again this season on the world cup circuit, she's rehabbing, as seen in a video with more than 76,000 views to date.

Look @jankylilj I'm spinning as fast as you! Wishing our speed girls good luck in Val d'isere! Ski fast @lalalaurenne @thealigator @staceycookusa @lindseyvonn #stepbystep #thisisactuallyreallygood

Posted by Mikaela Shiffrin on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LeBron's Best Move Yet?

One of the coolest-ever acts of in-game kindness broke out this past week at a Celtics game in Boston, where three-time gold medalist LeBron James cracked from his professional role as an NBA superstar and entered the crowd to make a young man's day. To read James' account ("I don't know, I felt like I was a part of him") is to love the act that much more, particularly as a player on the visiting team. Glancing up at the Jumbotron, King James learned enough of the fan's story during a timeout to charge over, give the fan a quick embrace and make his night out a lasting memory. Priceless video:

Phelps Evolution Continues

Once the youngest male swimmer to set a world record, Michael Phelps is now a veteran of four Olympics, and he has his eyes set on Rio for a fifth. His ups and downs are well-chronicled, but he recently sat down to discuss his career at length.

Watching the show brought out all manner of emotions from fellow elite athletes, including three-time Olympic volleyball player Lindsey Berg:

Olympic gymnast Alicia (Sacramone) Quinn:

Olympic gymnast Samantha Peszek:

Long, Winding Road

The Road to Rio is very rarely a straight line. All manner of setbacks stand in the way of an Olympic or Paralympic dream, symbolic or otherwise. For 2012 Paralympic swimming gold medalist Mallory Weggemann this past week, it meant an impromptu 14-hour car ride after the 2015 CanAm Para-Swimming Winter Championships in Bismarck, North Dakota, where Weggemann won in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle. 

Win And Grin

Yet another reason to root for gymnast Simone Biles to win multiple medals in Rio: this smile.

Voice Lesson

Captain of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team that won improbable gold in Lake Placid, New York, Mike Eruzione pretty much called this season's winner of The Voice.

Time Travel

Thank you, Paralympic swimmer Martha Ruether, for an excellent perspective on the most important meal of the day.

Ruether, having been born 16 weeks premature, seems to be comfortable with speeding up the clock.

Related Athletes

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Abby Wambach

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Alex Morgan

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Ashton Eaton

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Mikaela Shiffrin

Alpine Skiing
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LeBron James

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Michael Phelps

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Mallory Weggemann

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Martha Ruether