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."
'Tis The Season
As the 25th neared, holiday cheer began to ring throughout Team USA's timelines. And, depending on your point of view, a certain elf's arrival is either an early joyous sign of the season or something a bit more tedious. USA Diving has embraced the phenomenon.
Gold medalist figure skater Tara Lipinski and her boyfriend (well, more on that status later), were among the many to make sartorial statements in time for the holiday.
Olympic hurdler and bobsleder Lolo Jones shared this holiday-themed outfit.
Olympic fencer Race Imboden, who can be found working out in bare-bones gyms while on vacation, took a more minimalist approach (courtesy the official Instagram account of the Italian Fencing Federation).
A new look for Santa? Olympian @race_imboden in the holiday spirit! #TeamUSAPosted by U.S. Fencing Association on Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Six-time Olympic medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt, who is now back in Michigan for the holiday, before taking off for "The Mitten," stopped to post a line, both clever and inspirational — and perfect for the training Team USA athlete.
Holiday greetings also came in from around the world. Eleven-time Paralympic medalist and wheelchair marathon queen Tatyana McFadden offered a postcard-worthy view from the Taj Mahal, as did sister and fellow Paralympian Hannah McFadden from a different angle, but Tatyana did not stop there. She tracked down a Christmas tree.
Olympic medalist swimmer and breaststroke specialist Jessica Hardy hit the road for a visit with the in-laws. In Switzerland.
Surprised the Meichtry family for Christmas in Switzerland! Happy holidays to all. #grateful #surprise #love pic.twitter.com/3gujZqKAHh— Jessica Hardy (@swimhardy) December 20, 2015
Newlywed and women's national soccer team-er Sydney Leroux posted what certainly could double as their holiday card, including a few canine cameos.
Snowboarding legend and Olympic champ Shaun White may be growing up, though this time of year may bring out some mischievousness.
When mom asks if you peeked under the tree... pic.twitter.com/9wKIzPD48C— Shaun White (@shaunwhite) December 24, 2015
Christmas also means happy birthday for the mother of Paralympic star Amy Purdy.
Happy Birthday to my Christmas Baby Mama! Can you believe that this beautiful woman is 62 years old today?! I couldn't ask for a more amazing mom, her love and compassion inspires me to be a better person everyday! I sure hope I look like her at 62! Happy Birthday Mama!!!!! @sheripurdy #birthdaybaby #christmasbaby #happybirthday
World champion wrestler Adeline Gray, now wrestling abroad, also checked in from the Taj Mahal earlier in the week, and she sent her holiday greetings from Bangalore.
Olympic silver medalist ice dancer Tanith Belbin White found the spirit to be more than welcoming in Japan.
The annual IIHF World Junior Championship is underway as of Dec. 26 in Helsinki, Finland, where Team USA opens against Canada at 1 p.m. ET, followed by games on Dec. 28, Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 before the knockout rounds begin. They would like to return with some hardware, of course, but they haven't traveled light out there, either.
Truck's unloaded as Team USA gets settled here in Helsinki Ice Hall for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship! pic.twitter.com/1StNm5Lwen— USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 24, 2015
And if you haven't yet seen it, TeamUSA.org's rendition of 'Twas The Night Before Rio …
Team USA presents... "Twas the Night Before Rio" feat. your favorite #TeamUSA Athletes! #RoadToRio 🎁⛄️🎄❄️ 🇺🇸 https://t.co/HBV3ZArJR7— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) December 23, 2015
Where Getting Fat Is Encouraged
Bigwood Fat Bike Park in Sun Valley, Idaho, opened only a few weeks ago, but Olympic road cyclist Evelyn Stevens and her husband, thanks to endurance cycling star Rebecca Rusch, have visited — and come back with rave reviews.
Thanks @rebeccarusch for showing @bbaker and I around the bigwood snow bike park. What an awesome way to get outside in the snow! #sunvalley— Evelyn Stevens (@evelyn_stevens) December 24, 2015
Getting worked by @evelyn_stevens & @rebeccarusch at Bigwood fat bike park. Need the motor version next time. pic.twitter.com/Z69EF4PtYb— Brett Baker (@bbaker) December 24, 2015
Star (Wars) Sighting
We hadn't seen previous Olympic judoka and current UFC star Ronda Rousey smiling in one of her Instagram posts for nearly two months, but attending the Marine Corps Ball put a smile on her face after famously losing a bout last month. Presumably, she was also smiling when she went out incognito to take in the most recent Star Wars installment.
Grueling PT Continues
A day after posting a video while walking with braces on a suspended treadmill, six-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Amy Van Dyken, who was injured in an ATV accident, offered an even more encouraging glimpse into her grueling regimen.
'I Guess I Got My Swagger Back'
One of the very best point guards in the world, Kyrie Irving, who played an injury-curtailed season for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke before moving on to the NBA, is very likely in the conversation for the Rio Games, where Coach K will lead Team USA. Irving, injured in the first game of the NBA Finals at the end of the 2014-15 season, also missed the start of the 2015-16 season with a fractured left kneecap. But, considering he's the best point guard on a team that, thanks in large part to three-time Olympic medalist LeBron James, has enough talent to win an NBA title, his return has been eagerly awaited. Perhaps too eagerly, in fact.
Sorry to dwindle the news, but I won't be returning tmrw. It was wrongfully reported. When I do come back you'll hear it directly from me.— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) December 16, 2015
To the delight of Cleveland Cavs fans everywhere, and to the tune of 65,000 likes, he made good on his promise a few days later.
I'm back.— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) December 19, 2015
Irving also shared his story by way of a recently released video that made his own frustrations and fears clear. "There's a way of thinking you're in shape and there's a way of actually being in shape," he says optimistically of the difference between being able to merely run up and down the court for five minutes or being able to truly affect the game at both ends of the floor for five minutes. Stay tuned through the end for the money quote: "I guess I got my swagger back."
Irving's first game back: Christmas Day.
Bump, Set, Spike
We know that 2012 Olympic beach volleyball silver medalist April Ross isn't shy when it comes to clowning around with her mother-to-be sister, as evidenced by a Batman-inspired baby shower getup, and she was back at it this past week, ahem, exercising with her future nephew.
Two-time Olympic gymnastics champion and three-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman's workout regimen:
Thanks @khaziahislop (she was sweating lifting my leg) (the black thing on my foot is a weight for conditioning) pic.twitter.com/Sout5wXZx5— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) December 19, 2015
Leave it to an Emmy award-winning producer to come up with a most creative proposal. Congratulations are now in order for Lipinski and Todd Kapostasy, with Kapostasy proposing earlier this week in New York City.
Kapostasy's supreme marks for creativity were earned thusly:
Here's how it happened....💍 Todd knows I love holiday window displays so after a beautiful dinner and on our way for a drink @theplazahotel he said there was window there he thought I'd like to see....he somehow convinced the hotel to let him take one of their displays over and this painting of him proposing to me in front of my home in California was inside. By the time I turned to him he was on one knee....this is one surprise and Christmas that I will never forget. @toddkap
News of their engagement made the rounds, including to the "TODAY" show, where host Willie Geist had a little trouble with "KAH-pah-STAH-see," leading the couple to wonder whether "Lipinski" might just be the way to go.
Meanwhile, In Oslo
Lipinski's frequent on-air partner in figure skating coverage, Johnny Weir, has been a man on the move this past week: Germany, Romania, Norway and Russia. Before seeing an NYPD cruiser in Moscow, he made a scream of an impression in Oslo.
Wells Will Be Ringing
Congratulations are in order for 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Kellie Wells and her husband, New York Giants linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
At 4:17 am our world completely changed! My prince came into the world with his eyes wide open and tried to play tough like his daddy and not cry! We made eye contact and I was and am completely in love! He weighs 7lbs 7 ounces and is 20 (just about 21) inches long! Labor was the hardest thing I've ever done IN LIFE and I would do it all again for baby Jasper. My hubbs @jasperhitman54 was by my side thru it all and was so sweet and motivated me when I needed to push! We found out that baby jap had the umbilical cord wrapped around his leg, in his hand, and around his neck! My docs were amazing and gave me the opportunity to push instead of a C-section! We are all healthy and happy!!!! Thanks for the love and support!!!!!!! I'm a MOMMY! Thanks to the @nygiants for being so amazing thru it all!
Get Well Soon
Here's to a speedy recovery for Olympic gold medalist soccer standout Megan Rapinoe.