What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls — 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."
RIP, Craig Sager
For NBA fans, televised games often brought with them a welcome gift: Craig Sager. Known for his sartorial effervesce, the longtime television sideline reporter was far from shy about having some fun with his wardrobe. On Thursday, Sager passed away at the age of 51, leaving a hole in the hearts of many fans and players alike, including from Team USA.
“Time is simply how you live your life.” - Craig Sager. So grateful for the time you shared with all of us. RIP my friend #sagerstrong— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 15, 2016
RIP Craig Sager! pic.twitter.com/OfUcsdm3bT— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) December 16, 2016
Rest in Power! Sending my deepest condolences, prayer and love to the Sager family & my @NBA family! It is rare the greats get a chance to smell the roses or feel the appreciation from those around them. The it seemed like Sages got a chance to feel just that🙏🏾 First let me say Thank You to @nbaontnt @espn @nba for coming together & having Sages work his 1st NBA finals! Thanks fans, athletes & colleagues for letting him know just how respected he was amongst our community! Lastly Thanks @cubs for winning the World Series in the same year Sages worked the finals, I'm pretty sure that brought him joy...... We all can learn a little something from all the greats we've lost. Appreciate each day, smile a little more and continue to fight for a cure... #sagerstrong
A Lesson For Us All
Sandi Morris is a world-class pole vaulter, an indoor world championship silver medalist and an Olympic silver medalist. And here she is during the early stages of her athletic career, beginning with a different sport, which doesn’t exactly scream athletic potential …
What if her parents Harry and Kerry Morris, who would later go on to watch as much of her track career as they could, saw this gymnastics performance and thought, “Hmm, athletics? Maybe it’s not for our daughter,” and steered her away from sports? There would be no NCAA indoor pole vault title or recognition as a First-Team All-American, and there would certainly be no Olympic appearances.
Olympic multi-gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles had a pretty good weekend for a Cleveland sports fan.
Speaking of Cleveland, here’s LeBron James’ son casually — yawn — knocking down a shot from half-court:
His old man still has it, too, of course, as he was honored this past week at the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year ceremony. SI also posted a behind-the-scenes video of his cover shoot.
King James’ speech sets up as must-see video:
Also in the running for SI’s annual celebration of the very best of the best in sports this year were Team USA Olympians Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky. Phelps picked up some impressive hardware of his very own.
A Good Walk
If you haven’t been following the story of two-time Paralympic swimmer and gold medalist Mallory Weggemann, now is a good time to pick it up. Pegged against the date of Dec. 30, Weggemann, a Minneapolis native who is working out at the Mayo Clinic more than an hour away from the Twin Cities, aims to walk down the aisle on her wedding day. So far, so good …
Worked on "walking" with a skirt on today! No, this is not the dress, this is simply an under layer for a dress! It is incredible how much focus and concentration the little things take! So far we have practiced in the wedding shoes, we have practiced walking arm in arm with my dad and with Jay and now we have made it to practicing in a scenario where I can't see my feet! It is a process of baby steps but with each one we get closer to that aisle on December 30th!
May The Force Be With You
Rio swimming medalist and noted nerd Cody Miller managed to join the masses taking in the highly anticipated newest edition of the Star Wars franchise.
For parents trying to keep up with the holiday arms race of Elf on the Shelf theatrics, we have a few clever Team USA ideas for you:
The elf at my house may need professional help. pic.twitter.com/eIsiMBRVqo— Jonathan Horton (@J_Horton11) December 12, 2016
Miles was hanging in the bathroom. "Mom, I don't want Miles to watch me pee!" pic.twitter.com/tOc52gLhjS— Jamie Whitmore (@gutzytrigirl) December 13, 2016
On the office holiday party front, we have one of Team USA’s most recognizable soccer players, Alexi Lalas, and 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Soccer Team midfielder Stuart Holden, with a variation on the theme.
Olympic judoka Ronda Rousey, who competed at the 2004 Athens Games and earned a bronze medal in at the 2008 Beijing Games, is now a star in the UFC. Earlier this week, Rousey posted a video on Instagram heralding her return to competition after losing her most recent fight — the first of four such videos. A few days and nearly two million views between the four videos later, Dec. 30 looms that much closer.
She’s Back, Too
Amy Purdy is on no ordinary road back, either. A severe reaction to an especially grueling workout session led to the Paralympic snowboarding star’s hospitalization seven weeks ago, and she’s still only able to lift light weights. Thankfully, she’s slowly working back into form by taking two-three snowboarding runs a day, and the next step is to gain more strength to make another run at the Paralympic Winter Games.
When life throws you the unexpected, rise to the challenge! I'm still only able to use one pound weights but am now working my way up to planks. This recovery has been slooooow, however I can see improvements each day. If I want a chance at competing in the next Olympic/Paralympic Games, I have to compete in 4 weeks to gain points. Fingers crossed I can make it happen! Thanks everyone for your support! #rhabdosucks #livebeyondlimits @toyotausa
No More Books
If you happen to see three-time Olympic luger and bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, send congratulations her way. Here’s why …
Olympic 4x100-meter medley gold medalist Kelsi Worrell, too …
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and MVP water polo player Maggie Steffens isn’t done with school just yet, but she can celebrate a round of finals at Stanford.
Finals studying got me going crazy. I think I need to chill out on the color highlighters 💙💚💛❤️ pic.twitter.com/MEsDc4Lbrw— Maggie Steffens (@maggiesteffens) December 14, 2016
Setting It Down
The closest many of us will ever get to dunking on a 10-foot hoop, brought to you by Olympic gold medalist and NBA basketball star Anthony Davis:
Baby, It’s Cold Out There
Winter may not yet officially be here, but, boy, are there some parts of this country that have seen some fantastic snowfalls. In Washington state, Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington has been ripping through Mt. Baker.
@kaitlynfarr lays into one klassy looking turn during an epic stint of sunshine and blower pow at Mt. Baker Ski Area this week. Come hang with Kaitlyn and @barrettcc tomorrow during @gnusnowboards Legendary Ladies Baker Bash. See our snow report linked in bio for more info on all that is happening this weekend at Baker. Photo: @jaznewt #therrealmtbaker #mtbakerskiarea #mtbaker #legendaryladies @mtbakersnowboardshop
Things are looking deep at “Breck,” too.
… And in Park City, Utah, with its “terrifying” sliding curve, which will host red-hot Tucker West, winner of back-to-back world cup gold medals, for the season’s next stop at Utah Olympic Park.
… And at Big Bear, in California.
We haven’t heard the last of the mannequin challenges, and there’s star power to burn here …
Children don’t come with manuals, and while there are so many moments parents are left wondering what in the world they have gotten themselves into, there’s always something like this …
Life is beautiful! My 8y/o walks to my bedside and delivers a lovely note to me 😘 pic.twitter.com/0UL63Ivvpa— Bernard Lagat (@Lagat1500) December 12, 2016
A Cut Above
In case you hadn’t seen the news, the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team won gold this past week in Prince Edward Island at the World Sled Hockey Challenge. Luke McDermott, thanks to a very visible souvenir, will likely not soon forget Team USA’s unprecedented third consecutive World Sled Hockey Challenge championship — this one with a 5-2 win in the title game over rival Canada.
If you remember the 1984 Games, Mary Lou Retton may be your most vivid memory as she hurtled off the vault and, after a perfect 10, into household name status after her history-making performance. Now, America’s Sweetheart has four girls of her own, and three of them are licensed drivers.