While it may seem as if the next Olympic and Paralympic Games are far out on the horizon, there are events and stories happening every day and around the world that affect Team USA and its athletes. Each week, we'll catch you up on interesting items or take you a little closer to the newsmakers and events you may have missed along the way — often through the kinds of social media posts that make Team USA so compelling.
Is Simone Biles Unbeatable?
The term "unbeatable" makes Martha Karolyi a little uneasy, but she found herself answering just where Simone Biles fit on that spectrum this past week, not long after the teen gymnastics sensation ran away with the AT&T American Cup. Performing some of the most difficult routines in Arlington, Texas, Biles won every event and finished more than four points ahead of her nearest competitor, MyKayla Skinner.
To some degree, Karolyi was put in the position by comments from a few former Team USA Olympians, thanks to a Q&A with NBC Sports' OlympicTalk.
OlympicTalk: Mary Lou Retton and Nastia Liukin have said Simone Biles is pretty much unbeatable. How would you compare or rank Biles among all the gymnasts you have seen?
Karolyi: She is one of the most talented ones. I, personally, don’t like to make statements like “unbeatable.” I especially even commented this to Simone that there’s no such thing as unbeatable.
While anything can happen in a sport like gymnastics, Biles already stacks up as an early favorite to win gold at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
Happy Birthday, Stephen Curry
Last week, sharp-shooting guard Stephen Curry turned the Clippers into the Keystone Cops while he dribbled his way through four of them before hitting a step-back 3-pointer in one the NBA season's best individual plays (2.6 million loops and counting on Vine). On Saturday, the former Davidson star turned 27. Here's how he was celebrating prior to Golden State's game against the Knicks (he wound up scoring 25 points and adding 11 assists):
Curry, who was named a finalist for the 2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team and has two FIBA World Championship gold medals, has entered the conversation as this season's NBA Most Valuable Player.
An Anniversary To Remember...
It was on the Ides of March in 2014 that the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team shut out Russia, 1-0, to win gold at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Now makes for as good a time as any to watch PBS' inspiring video, "Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey" — or, at least, check out the preview:
Congratulations Are In Order
Three cheers to Team USA bobsled standout Jazmine Fenlator, who this past week added another honor to her resume. The 2007 Rider University graduate received a Sesquicentennial Medal of Excellence on the occasion of the school's 150th anniversary.
Thx for a gr8 visit @RiderUniversity @RIDERATHLETICS @RiderXCTF! Still in shock of all the honors & love! #GoBroncs pic.twitter.com/Qh9SzW8lCJ— Jazmine Fenlator (@JazmineFenlator) March 13, 2015
The one-time track and field star — also a two-time Rider Athlete of the Year — has her sights set on the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. For now, though, Fenlator has an internship lined up with the International Olympic Committee, according to The Trentonian.
If indeed it was her last competition, Hannah Kearney will go out on top. Kearney announced before this season that this would be her last, and on Sunday she won the dual moguls world cup event in Megeve, France, officially closing out both the moguls and overall crystal globes. The win marked her 46th world cup win, tying her with freestyle skiing legend Donna Weinbrecht for the most moguls world cup wins.
"It was a really enjoyable day," Kearney said afterward, according to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "So if that’s the end of my career, it’s a very good ending to my career. My mother was here today. She was at my first mogul competition 20 years ago. It was an emotional day for her too. It’s just all been a very fun experience."
Have a look at what may be Kearney's final world cup run to record her 46th career win:
Kearney also earned Olympic medals in both Vancouver (gold) and Sochi (bronze).
Mountaineers Are Straight Shooters
For the third time in as many seasons, West Virginia won the NCAA Rifle Championship. National Junior Team member Garrett Spurgeon, a junior from Canton, Missouri, was awarded the inaugural Top Performer Award at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks over the weekend, while the Mountaineers have now won 17 national rifle titles. The program's score of 4,702 ranks as the second-best in NCAA Rifle Championships history — behind WVU's own record of 4,705, which was set at last year’s championships.
So proud of my team.. From the 5 here in AK to the guys back in morgantown! So thankful for these guys!! #ThreePeat— Garrett Spurgeon (@anschutz_man) March 14, 2015
Remember The Name
Kaylin Whitney, the Florida teenager who in January told the Orlando Sentinel she'd be turning her attention to an Olympic career, announced on Monday, her 17th birthday, that she would also turn professional. This past July, Whitney, the fastest-ever woman under the age of 18, ran 11.10 in the 100-meter and 22.49 in the 200 on consecutive days at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships.
Humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to announce I am a professional track athlete! #justdoit @usatf pic.twitter.com/EoTfIFcWwB— Whitney. (@KaylinWhitney) March 9, 2015
It wasn't long after the tweet that Allyson Felix, who holds the prep record in the 200 (22.11), offered words of encouragement.
Congratulations @KaylinWhitney enjoy & embrace the journey!— Allyson Felix (@allysonfelix) March 10, 2015
MMA doesn't lack for exposure these days, but the continued success of Henry Cejudo certainly couldn't hurt. On Saturday, the 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist impressed in a win over Chris Cariaso at UFC 185 to continue adding to the legitimacy of his new career.
Believe in your dream. You can do anything. #UFC185. #besomebody.— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) March 15, 2015
Henry Cejudo: Just like I won gold in the Olympic in 2008, I’m here to win gold in the UFC. Wants a top-five guy next.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 15, 2015