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."
Triumph After 'Tragic Skate'
In the aftermath of nearly indescribable disappointment at the world championships this past weekend in Boston, Olympic bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion Gracie Gold was raw and emotional, admittedly "sad" and "embarrassed," and her thoughts turned to taking stock of her future in international skating. "I still have hopes for the 2018 Olympics, but we’ll have to step back and re-evaluate what’s realistic for my future skating," Gold said.
Thankfully, the sun did rise on her mood. Two mornings later, at just after 8 a.m., Gold shared a most triumphant message for her 130,000 Twitter followers.
I will rise again. pic.twitter.com/MaiBEAB4JU— Gracie Gold (@GraceEGold) April 4, 2016
A few minutes later, she backed that up with a note of gratitude ...
Thank you to my friends, family, supporters, and the city of Boston. Your support means more than I can express. Thank you❤️— Gracie Gold (@GraceEGold) April 4, 2016
Figuring It Out
There were medal moments at worlds, of course, and few resonated more than that of Olympic medalist and three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner. Wagner broke a 10-year U.S. women's drought by medaling in Boston, much to the delight of Olympic gold medalists and contemporaries alike.
@AshWagner2010 Awesome job! You rose to a home grown occasion! Thanks for ending the decade long drought. 2nd in the world. You earned it!— Scott Hamilton (@ScottHamilton84) April 3, 2016
Wagner's path hasn't always been easy, and her post on Instagram captured so much of what she felt she has overcome these past few years: "I didn't listen to all of the people telling me no."
Boston, thank you. In my career, I have had so many people say no to me, so many people question whether I belonged, why I was sticking around. I have consistently been demanded to prove my existence in this sport, and finally I feel like I can silence all of that extra noise. I'm here because I love what I do, I didn't listen to all of the people telling me no, and I found a new way to go about things. I changed myself into an athlete that could climb onto the podium at the world stage. I can't believe I can call myself a world silver medalist! Thank you to my coaches, the people that pushed me past my own limitations. Raf has given me a career I only once dreamed of having. I am so forever grateful for everything he has done for me. Thank you to my family, who was in the audience this whole week supporting me. Being able to share this with them was incredible. Lastly, thank you Boston for the experience of a lifetime. This was the most magnetic, vivacious and magical crowd I have ever been able to skate for, and it was a moment I will never forget. Thank you. Never give up and never say never.
Adding a little levity to the proceedings, two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir took a lift to the venue.
For Wagner, later in the week, the podium finish paid off handsomely in the form of a trip to the Magic Kingdom.
'Do Something You've Never Done'
... When no one is watching. That phrase should come to mind when we see the images of Team USA athletes sweating it out in the gym. Most Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls can only dream of their efforts being rewarded with much more than a few minutes of a nation's attention every four years.
What looks good this season? U.S. Soccer's new kits. Take a closer look at both the home and away versions in a behind-the-scenes video complete with a few stellar stills, too.
Green Jacket Club
A favorite to represent Team USA at the Olympics in golf, Jordan Spieth entered the Masters merely No. 12 on the PGA Tour money list, but the No. 2-ranked player in the world carded a round as pretty as the iconic course on Thursday. The opening-round 66 had the event's defending champion waking up on Friday morning as the event's leader after a day's play, with a steady charge toward 6-under.
Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champion also in the mix for a spot in Rio, carded an opening-round 75. The No. 4-ranked player in the world, however, did have himself some fun with his son leading up to the tournament.
Rickie Fowler, just behind Watson in the world rankings, opened with an 80 to rank tied for 81st in the Masters field, but, to the tune of more than 4,000 likes, remained positive.
80 for the 80th playing of The Masters haha...definitely wasn't the plan but I'll be back at it tomorrow!!— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) April 7, 2016
For the record, Watson leads the threesome with 1.56 million Twitter followers, followed by Spieth's 1.33 million and Fowler's 1.12 million.
Wheeling And Dealing
As recently as 1920, tug of war was on the Olympic program, but this probably wasn't what early organizers had in mind. Maybe if they had met two-, going on three-sport Paralympic star Alana Nichols, things would have been different. Here's Nichols on her Road to Rio:
Typical day at @s10fitness pulling some serious weight around! @christopher.daly and the #s10fitness crew are the best, most down to earth, genuine "meat heads" @sandiego.city has to offer! Thank you guys!!! @rio2016 #roadtorio #parakayak @nikewomen @nike #boxwheelchairs @moswopr thanks for the fancy 📸 work!
Beacon vs. @alliseeisgold
We've checked in before on the wrestling exploits of Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion Jordan Burroughs' son, Beacon (including in one of the cutest wrestling videos we've seen), and he's at it again, this time taking a run at his famous dad. Still cute as could be ...
Beacon has been paying attention at Dad's wrestling practices! pic.twitter.com/aMOng4dpvd— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) April 2, 2016
SJ's Getting Hitched
Where to start on the week that Olympic gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson is having? First, there was the bachelorette festivities that looked a little like this in the morning ...
And a little like this in the evening ...
And then her fiancé goes and signs with the Oakland Raiders. The couple is now inside 10 days before The Big Day.
Revolution In The Air
One of trampoline Olympian Steven Gluckstein's greatest beefs is with gravity. While he created some captivating videos this past March toying with gravity, he made it clear he's no proponent of it. And no wonder. For Gluckstein is chasing as much air time as he can. Any idea how many rotations there are in this 21-second video?
This weekend, you can catch Gluckstein at the Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Wash., where he has already been showing off another talent.
Reaching New Heights
Olympic freeskier David Wise also has a thing for gravity avoidance. Wise once soared to a gold medal in Sochi, and now he's finding himself higher and higher off the ground. In fact, Wise is breaking records for his splits with terra firma.
Still impressive from a different angle ...
If you told me that I would go 46.5 feet above a takeoff, I wouldn't have believed you. It's just silly. Thanks @christof_schenk @joffreypv and everyone else at @nineknights for taking it to the next level! @4frnt_skis @smithoptics @monsterenergy @visa_us @skinorthstar #worldrecord #boosting #skiing #tothemoon @weareschneestern @f_techsnowparks 💣💸🚀
Realtors, keep an eye out for this happy couple. A few months after one of the most creative proposals we've seen, Olympic gold medal Tara Lipinski and Todd Kapostasy are on the hunt.
Team USA won not one, but two, titles this past week on the ice. First, the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team topped Canada, 4-1, in Buffalo to win a gold medal at the 2016 IPC Sled Hockey Pan-Pacific Championship, prompting this inspiring line from Josh Pauls:
If there's one thing I'll never get tired of, it's winning— Josh Pauls (@spudsusa27) April 3, 2016
Pauls, who was named Best Defender of the Tournament, then stayed up to watch the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team in its IIHF World Women's Championship final. Yes, the U.S. women won gold in a dramatic overtime finish over Canada, in Canada, no less ... but they still had to pick up their own gear.
While we're on the topic of world titles, we offer Olympic medalist ice hockey player Kendall Coyne and NFL offensive lineman Michael Schofield. Schofield won a Super Bowl title while Coyne won her fourth world gold medal.