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.
We Are The Worlds
A hockey team doesn't travel light, y'all. Take a look at two-time Olympian Hilary Knight having a quick luggage swim before jetting off for the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship in Malmo, Sweden, which are now underway:
Team USA was victorious at the last women's worlds in 2013, and the women are off to a great start in 2015. At a tournament where the United States and Canada have squared off in each of the previous 15 finals, Team USA, coached this year by former NHLer Ken Klee, opened with a 4-2 win over its rivals to the north in a first-round game on Saturday. There wasn't much time to celebrate, however, as Team USA had Finland on the schedule for Sunday's Game 2.
Two-time Olympian and team captain Meghan Duggan fueled up thusly:
Team USA went on to win, 4-1, outshooting the Finns, 53-12, in the process, and U.S. women return to the ice again on Tuesday to take on Russia.
How much can happen in a millisecond? Not a lot: You need 400 of them to blink. And yet that's the increment of time separating winning from losing in the sport of luge. USA Luge asked and answered the aforementioned question in a video that gives the viewer a sense of how quickly things can go right, or wrong, at nearly 90 mph.
Take a thrill ride of your own:
One of the best ski racers in the world left one of the more inspiring messages for aspiring skiers. On Saturday in Maine, Mikaela Shiffrin blasted through the slalom course at Sugarloaf, not all that far from where she attended high school in Northern Vermont, and she also offered this shout-out to the "amazing crowd" in attendance:
Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, the Olympic champion in the floor exercise, returned to competition over the weekend in Italy, where the pair, in their first meet since the London 2012 Olympic Games, both finished among the top five in the all-around at the City of Jesolo Trophy. Raisman, now 20, finished third, while Douglas, now 19, finished fourth. Finishing first? Two-time world all-around champion Simone Biles, who led Team USA on all four apparatuses in the all-around and won gold in three event finals. Bailie Key finished second in a United States sweep that extended to the fifth-place finisher, Alyssa Baumann. Overall, Team USA finished first, ahead of Italy and Canada.
According to a release from USA Gymnastics, it was the first time since the 1980 Olympic Games that the reigning women’s world and Olympic all-around champions have competed against each other in competition.
And if you're wondering how that felt to Raisman and Douglas, Raisman offered this exclamation:
Meanwhile, In Shanghai …
Team USA's most uplifting story to come out of the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai might have been the silver medal-winning performance of Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The ice dancing pair led the event after the short dance and nearly became only the second pair from the United States, after Meryl Davis and Charlie White, to win an ice dancing title at worlds.
U.S. champion Jason Brown finished fourth among the men in Shanghai, the highest finish from a U.S. man since 2009, a feat that caught the attention of Olympian Tai Babilonia:
Off the charts incredible! Bravo @jasonbskates ! A Pro on & off the ice :)— Tai Babilonia (@taiskates) March 28, 2015
The U.S. women finished just off the podium in Shanghai — in fourth (Gracie Gold), fifth (Ashley Wagner) and eighth (Polina Edmunds). Gold and Wagner, after difficult short programs, turned in two of the three highest-scoring performances of Saturday's free skate.
And, on Sunday, the crew cleaned up nicely and headed off to the closing banquet:
Here's another shot from Brown:
While the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team dropped a 3-2 decision to host Denmark, Jozy Altidore recorded a pair of highlights that put Team USA up by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 before Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner closed out a hat trick this past week in the city of Aarhus.
Altidore's goal in the 19th minute displayed both strength in holding off two defenders and touch when he half-volleyed a shot in from the short side.
Olympic soccer standout Alexi Lalas may have been skiing for the first time — at the tender age of 44, no less — in Park City, Utah, but he sensed something was, at least for a bit, right with Team USA's soccer world:
In the 66th minute, Altidore assisted on Aron Johannsson's goal to again put Team USA up by a goal. Bendtner scored in both the 83rd minute and in extra time. For his part, Altidore, who is now three goals behind Brian McBride for No. 4 on the Team USA all-time scoring list, is on to Switzerland (Tuesday at noon ET in Zurich).
Hate losing. Ready to go again vs Switzerland Tuesday night. To fans that came and supported us the whole match, thank you! #1N1T— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) March 25, 2015
We learned late this past week officially what many worried would become the case: Team USA and Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant would be lost for the season. The 6-foot-9 defending NBA MVP will undergo surgery on his right foot, reportedly this week, thereby depriving the basketball world for the next 4-6 months of this silky smooth release:
Olympians Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, along with CJ McCollum, quickly showed their support:
Prayers out to @KDTrey5 . Broke my fifth twice in one year. Hate to see it happen but he will recover and be back on the court serving 🙌🙏— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) March 27, 2015
His playing career now well in the rearview mirror, 1996 Olympian Reggie Miller, who will hit the big 5-0 in May, can still shoot the lights out. In a nearly empty gym between practice sessions during his work as an analyst on NCAA Tournament coverage, Miller poured in five shots, including four from long distance, and he barely drew iron.
Miller could always talk a good game, but, when the video went viral, he was left to somewhat sheepishly remind a national radio audience this past week that, "Shooters shoot." Indeed.