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."
Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Purdy proved this past week that she has a flair for the dramatic — and for throwing the perfect party for the occasion. The hints started about a week ago with a relatively benign "a lot of love in the air this week" Instagram post that generated more than 4,400 likes. That was followed a day later by a less-subtle glimpse of her wedding dress that generated more than 9,500 likes.
Then, the payoff:
Well friends! We did it!!! What an unbelievably magical night! By far the best of our lives!! We were fortunate to have the most special people of our lives all come together to celebrate! We even had a rainbow that appeared above us! I honestly can not imagine a more perfect special and fun celebration! And ... We danced that Idaho barn to the ground! We are married!!!!!!!! Yay!!! @dang_ale ! By the way... aren't these flowers by @bloomsflowerstudio gorgeous?! I was dying when I saw them!!! Thank you @nateperkes photography for this gorgeous shot!! #hiddensprings #wedding 🌷🌼🌸💑
Four weeks ago, Purdy, her mom, her sister and her niece took a dress shopping field trip to New York, resulting in this stunning floor-length gown.
As for the reception entertainment, why not bring in Wynonna Judd to sing?
The happy couple has also set sail on its honeymoon.
#VMAs, #Kanye, #Bro
Some feuds were squashed. Others flared up. There were a memorable performances and sartorial statements. But perhaps the most lasting impression of the 2015 Video Music Awards, the one so many Team USA athletes were watching, came courtesy of Kanye West. West's speech quickly took over timelines while offering ample material for real-time commentary ranging from the snarky to the poignant. To wit …
Silver medalist hurdler Jason Richardson, 10:37 p.m. ET:
Kanye West is borderline nuts; peanuts cashew & almonds but it's undeniable the man is a musical GENIUS!!! #MTVVMAs— Jason Richardson (@JaiRich) August 31, 2015
World champion figure skater Kimmie Meissner, 10:45 p.m. ET:
I'm uncomfortable.— Kimmie Meissner (@kimmiemeissner) August 31, 2015
Gold medalist alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, 10:46 p.m. ET:
#VMAs2015 this.. Is a speech— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) August 31, 2015
World champion fencer Miles Chamley-Watson, 10:46 p.m. ET:
I love #Kanye— Miles Chamley-Watson (@MChamleyWatson) August 31, 2015
Silver medalist fencer Tim Morehouse, 10:48 p.m. ET:
She's Going West … Brook
Congratulations are in order for Olympic gold medal-winning basketball star Russell Westbrook and fellow former UCLA basketball player Nina Earl, who were also married over the weekend. On a scale of 1 to 10, these smiles come in at about a million.
My Mrs. ❤️ 8.29.15 pic.twitter.com/oTFRCww2ty— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) August 30, 2015
Not only does the happy couple photograph well (more than 30,000 favorites on Twitter can't be wrong), but so do Russell and his brother.
Tiny House Living
Olympic halfpipe snowboarding star Gretchen Bleiler has been been immersing herself in nature lately: a "stormy hike" up to Cathedral Peak a week ago and the American Lake Trail over the weekend. Making appearances on each trip, set against the sunning mountains and high-country lakes of the American West, was her dog, Kota. To cap this trip off, Bleiler set up shop in a tiny house, cleverly referred to as WeeCasa, not far from Boulder, Colorado.
Who wants to stay in a hotel when you can stay here?! This was my humble abode last night outside of Boulder in Lyons, CO. The soothing sound of the river was my soundtrack as I fell asleep in my cozy little loft! I am absolutely falling in love with all of the super creative back to nature, back to simplicity living/vacationing/glamping park creations that are popping up all over the place😊 This place is called weecasa and I highly recommend the experience, I mean check out their mission: In keeping with the belief that life should be a balance of freedom and sustainability, we strive to express a new vision of the “American Dream.” AMEN and thank you Weecasa🎉
Hurdle Star's Biggest Hurdle
Not only was 110-meter hurdle Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt up against a strong field at the world championships late last month, but he has also been fighting, since 2013, a life-threatening kidney disease so serious that he underwent kidney transplant surgery on Sept. 1. Heading into the weekend, Merritt earned bronze in Beijing. Four days later, he underwent the transplant with his sister as his kidney donor.
At one point, Merritt was told he would never run again. Naturally, his story has inspired many, including some of the best athletes in the world.
Praying for @amhurdlestar 's kidney transplant to go smoothly 🙌🏽— Ryan Bailey (@RBailey_sprints) September 2, 2015
So far, so good, according to reports, too. Not surprisingly, Merritt is moving quickly.
Not For The Squeamish
Injuries are a way of life for Team USA athletes, and those injuries range from broken bones, to surgical procedures, to blisters. We'll start with the blister, if only to work up to London Olympian Jake Dalton's shoulder procedure.
Michelle Wie, a golfer whose game made her famous before she was even in her teens but will be seeking a spot in Rio for golf's Olympic revival, had to think about an age-old question about what to do about a pesky blister.
Dalton, on the other hand, had this with which to contend: "a tube that was allowing pain medicine to go into my shoulder."
Got this thing out today 😝💉 pic.twitter.com/A4Dat0BbyS— Jake Dalton (@jake_dalton) September 3, 2015
One of the most rewarding elements of being part of Team USA is having an extended support group. For Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, who recently underwent knee surgery, that came in the form of a special delivery from fellow Olympic winter athlete Maia Shibutani. Shibutani, a figure skater and fantastic social media follow in her own right, also proved to be quite a thoughtful friend.
The NFL's Deflategate saga finally came to a stop Thursday, at least before any other legal steps are taken, with Tom Brady's four-game suspension not only reduced, but nullified by a federal judge in New York City. The sporting world had watched with interest as lines were drawn between the league and the Patriots, and Team USA athletes joined the trending dialog.
Olympic basketball gold medalist Reggie Miller saw implications that might impact far more athletes than just Brady.
Everyone who's faced the Wrath of Goodell or currently serving a suspension should appeal.. Brady has shown the way..— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) September 3, 2015
NCAA all-around champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Samantha Peszek's take likely resonated outside of New England.
Wow. Tom Brady appeal. Extremely disappointing— Samantha Peszek (@samanthapeszek) September 3, 2015
Massachusetts native and Olympic silver medal-winning women's ice hockey player Alex Carpenter saw it the other way.
Olympic freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace, while in Chile, caught this stunning sunset.