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On The Lighter Side: June 5-11

By Jamie MacDonald | June 12, 2015, 3:33 a.m. (ET)

If we've learned anything with increased coverage, we've learned that Team USA's athletes and teams aren't leading dull lives. Whether it's training 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 that make Team USA so compelling.

A Crossover Star Is Born

Many were first introduced to the televised drama of "American Ninja Warrior" when a 5-foot sprite named Kacy Catanzaro rang up millions of views on YouTube by running through the course. We were also introduced to the idea that gymnasts, even in the 5-foot range, are uniquely suited to standing above the competition.

This week, we were reminded of that fact by 2008 Olympic silver medalist Jonathan Horton, who, at 5-foot-1, made a bit of history.

History is made! Jonathan Horton becomes the shortest man EVER to scale the Warped Wall.

Posted by Ninja Warrior on Monday, June 8, 2015

Catanzaro, a former NCAA gymnast, took note.

Also taking note were a number of Horton's fellow Olympic gymnasts, including Jake Dalton and Sam Mikulak.

Hoop Dreams

Through four games of the NBA Finals, we have seen two overtime games and thrilling moments in Games 3 and 4, leaving Olympian LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers tied, 2-2, in the series. A few Team USA athletes have taken clear sides (two-time Olympic women's ice hockey silver medalist Brianne comes to mind, as does Brittney Reese), but few are as shameless in their rooting interest as the "HediGuchis."

In the HediGuchis' defense, they have a connection to the team: 1992 Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi's brother, Brett Yamaguchi, is the Golden State Warriors' Director, Game Operations. Yamaguchi, of course, is married to former NHL player and two-time Olympian Bret Hedican. 


Dream Teamer Earvin "Magic" Johnson has his eye on Cleveland's James, and he paid a few superlative compliments to King James after Game 3.

Plank Check

For anyone wondering about elite athletes' commitment to training, maybe this paints a clearer picture. Here's Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin, in paradise, getting creative with a core workout.

Trying a new core exercise .. Water planks? #ilastedtenseconds #ormaybejustfive #fourdimensionalcore #tryingtobecreative

Posted by Mikaela Shiffrin on Sunday, June 7, 2015

Two days later, Shiffrin set sail on an even tougher test of her endurance, if not her pride.

#tryingnottodrown #IswallowedTheOcean #ButActually #OhCrap

Posted by Mikaela Shiffrin on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Giant Leap For His Sport

If you haven't ever seen 2012 Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor's handiwork, here's your chance -- in slo-mo, no less -- as he continues to bring attention to the event.

To Have And To Holden

Congratulations are in order for former U.S. Soccer midfielder Stuart Holden and Karalyn West, who were married this past Sunday (an event that may have spurred Team USA goaltender Tim Howard to shave his beard, by the way).

West later offered up a romantic scene-setter.

THE KISS! πŸ‘°πŸΌβ€οΈπŸ‘±πŸΌ

A photo posted by Karalyn West (@karalynwest) on

Engagements, Too

Congratulations are also in order for Oympic gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin and former Boston College hockey player Matt Lombardi. And there is bling:

Turks & Caicos also played a special role in the proceedings.

Camel Case

Yes, Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, posted this on a Wednesday.

Moroccan adventuresπŸͺπŸͺ

A photo posted by Allyson Felix (@af85) on

Skiing On A Glacier In June? Of Course

While so many were enjoying warmer weather, slopestyle Olympic medalist Nick Goepper sought winter. And he wound up finding more than enough snow at the Fonna Glacier Ski Resort in Norway. At one point this past February, Fonna, which boasts a summer season from May to August, had already seen more than 20 feet of snowfall.

Just a little bit of snow on the side of the road... FONNA Glacier Ski Resort #actioncam

Posted by Nick Goepper on Monday, June 8, 2015

For ski fans seeking a fix this time of year, Goepper offered this electric effort.

A few more shots from @fonnasnowpark Skiing rails is the bestπŸ‘ŒπŸ» πŸ“·: @lukeochoallen

A video posted by Nick Goepper (@nickgoepper) on

Tri And Win

A formidable trio banded together recently to compete in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which involves about 2,000 hearty souls and begins with a 7:30 a.m. plunge into the chilly waters off Alcatraz. That chilly dip is followed by a 1.5-mile swim across the bay, an 18-mile bike ride and an eight-mile run.

Olympic swimmer and three-time medalist Rebecca Soni kicked things off:

Ariana Kukors, a 2012 Olympian and the 200-meter IM world record holder, took over at the first transition:

The trio, rounded out by teammate Tom Hodge, combined to cover the course in 2:39:44, good for No. 1 among coed entries.

Dog Days

Noted dog lover and two-time Olympic ice hockey player David Backes put a twist on the Internet holiday of #BestFriendsDay.

Athlete Problems

You know what wouldn't be a fun way to wake up on a Monday morning?

Related Athletes

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Jonathan Horton

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Christian Taylor

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Nastia Liukin

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Rebecca Soni

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Ariana Kukors