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Red, White & Trending: Dec. 25-31

By Jamie MacDonald | Jan. 01, 2016, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Happy New Year, all. 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."

Let The Training Begin

Ready to turn that last page on the calendar? Gwen Jorgensen beat you to it, thanks in part to spending training time in Australia. For Jorgensen, playtime is over. The 2012 Olympic triathlete — who, by the way, dominated the sport in 2015 — is looking ahead to Rio, and her training season is officially underway.

Over the course of 53 days that came to an end Dec. 28, she had feasted in Twin Cities restaurants, taken in her first NHL game and run a 5K with her family, but she's now Down Under … flexing.

Her sentiment, though, may best capture the spirit of this Jan. 1 more optimistically and succinctly than anything you'll read today.

Gift That Keeps On Giving

In many households, the fruits of the Christmas holiday means the New Year brings with it a new mode of transportation. According to Bridget Brunet, former Miss New Hampshire USA and, as of this past summer, fiancée of Olympic snowboarding medalist Scotty Lago, "Christmas was a success," thanks to a popular gift. Credit Lago for having some fun with it, including this: "I can't believe people in the old days used to walk. It's so ridiculous." Kudos to Lago for comedic timing.

Typical morning! @bridgetbrunet

A video posted by Scotty Lago (@scottylago) on

Former heavyweight champ and Junior Olympian Mike Tyson's effort, on the other hand, ended in something approximating calamity.

Priceless Post

A new year brings new beginnings for a pair of newly engaged 2012 Olympic BMX racers: Australia's Sam Willoughby and Team USA's Alise Post. Post, after being "lured" to Coronado Island off the coast of San Diego, came away with some shiny new bling. She also come away from the trip with some priceless images.

Yesterday i asked the girl i love Alise Post to Marry me and she said yes! We are very excited to start/continue our journey through life together.

Posted by Sam Willoughby on Monday, December 28, 2015

Post later recounted the moments for her nearly 20,000 Instagram followers (more than 2,500 of whom liked the post): After all of these years, Sam still continues to surprise me! Yesterday he lured me out to Coronado Island for a "casual photo shoot for PULL Magazine" with @dbetcher44. After a few awkward poses, I was shocked to turn around and find him down on one knee... He's officially made me both the happiest and luckiest girl alive, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with my best friend!

Speaking Of Engagements

For 2012 Paralympic swimming gold medalist and Rio hopeful Mallory Weggemann, the countdown is on. Now inside a year before their wedding, Weggemann and Jeremy Snyder celebrated their own #OneYearOut celebration at the beautiful Saint Paul Hotel in Minnesota, where they'll be married next year.

Happy … Birthday

With the dawning of 2016, Olympic gymnastics champion Gabby Douglas has another reason to celebrate the new year:

Bike With A View

If you're going to spend your "vacation" working, you might as well find a beautiful spot. That's clearly not a problem for Paralympic cycling gold medalist and Army veteran Jennifer Schuble, who set up for a lovely photo op in front of the famous Tim Kelly statue — appropriately capped — on one of the more captivating beach cruises in the country, along The Strand in Hermosa Beach, California.

Embrace The Hate

The phrase "Should auld acquaintance be forgot" reappears this time of year, and it could be tweaked to apply for two-time Olympian and basketball legend Kobe Bryant's final visit to Boston on Wednesday night. Forgetting themselves perhaps for a moment, a fan base inveterately hostile to all things Lakers, they cheered Bryant's introduction and serenaded him with chants of "KO-BE, KO-BE" after the final buzzer. Somewhat re-centering the universe, the fans also booed Bryant's possessions early and often. Which he preferred.

"It felt great to get booed," he told reporters, before relaying a heartfelt thanks to that generally vengeful crowd that had a "profound impact" on driving him to succeed. "Being able to say thank you to the fans was beautiful."

For a window into one sport's most-competitive souls, here was Bryant's take on what the constant hostility meant to him and his career: "It drove me to maniacal proportions."

Another window into Bryant's soul: The following clip from a recently release video short, in which he says things such as, "… hours of training is nothing compared to a second of losing."

Unkind Karma

What happens when you laugh at the misfortune of others? For Olympic alpine skiing star Lindsey Vonn, who is finally back in Vail, Colorado, after work took her to Lake Louise, Alberta; Åre, Sweden; Val d'Isère, France; Courchevel, France; and Lienz, Austria, it means a blunt awakening … from a tree.

Earlier in the week, Vonn confronted rumors about her personal life with similar bluntness by way of a powerful Instagram post.

Workout Wonders

Over the past year, Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva has earned more than 4,000 likes twice on Instagram. The first: This past May, he vowed to shave his head and donate money for a good cause if he earned 10,000 likes. He wound up not making that number, but he did donate and cut his hair just for good measure. The second Instagram post with more than 4,000 likes for Leyva this year (and, just, wow):

Three-time Olympian and former NCAA champion Sanya Richards-Ross is also working this holiday season, showing off the form that helped make her a four-time Olympic champion, including an individual 400-meter gold in London.

Focused.... 🎧 I'm just tryna be legendary #RoadToRio #OnAMission #VisioningVictory

A video posted by Sanya Richards-Ross (@sanyarichiross) on

On her own row to Rio, two-time Olympic gold medalist rower Eleanor Logan will simply go the rustic route.

Racing Streak

Depending on the light, this blonde streak in the hair of three-time Olympic 400-meter star DeeDee Trotter might very well be as good as gold.

Trying something new for the New Year. Just a little #blonde... Why not. @gajarahhair #AlwaysGajarah

A photo posted by DeeDee Trotter (@dtrott400m) on

Giving Back

Lauryn Williams has one of Team USA's most compelling Olympic histories, full of triumph and disappointment. The former NCAA 100-meter champion won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games, with a time of 10.96, but that success may have been overshadowed by 4x100-meter disappointments in both Athens and at the 2008 Beijing Games. At the 2012 London Games, she ran qualifying heats for Team USA, earning a gold medal when Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter set the relay's world record at 40.82.

Then …

Williams became a winter athlete, racing for Team USA in women's bobsled. In Sochi, Russia, one of the world's fastest women, along with Elana Meyers Taylor, won a silver medal.

Earlier this week, she could be found putting her efforts into an entirely different workout.

Treadmill Chronicles

Once a competitor, always a competitor. Former U.S. Women's National Soccer Team defender and three-time Olympic gold medalist, most recently in London, Heather Mitts will still have a go.

Early Mother's Day

Mother's Day isn't for another four months, but the holidays have a way of bringing out the best in people's relationships. This past week, both the first American woman to win a boxing gold medal at the 2012 London Games, Claressa Shields, and 2012 Olympic 110-meter hurdles champion, Aries Merritt, let their followers know they had mom on their minds.


Merritt also knows a little something about strength. Since 2013, he had been fighting a kidney disease so serious that he underwent kidney transplant surgery on Sept. 1, 2015, only four days after he'd earned a bronze medal at the world championships in Beijing.

Remember The Name: Cassidy Bayer

Elite athletes under even the most ideal circumstances have enough to worry about, but very few of them also have to navigate proms, driver's tests and high school math. But that is the case for Cassidy Bayer, the 16-year-old swimming prodigy with her sights set on Rio. Bayer is among a handful of the fastest American women in the 200 butterfly, but, as chronicled in a recent NBC News story, a spot in Rio remains a complicated challenge.

Related Athletes

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Scotty Lago

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Alise Willoughby

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Mallory Weggemann

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Kobe Bryant

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Lindsey Vonn

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Lauryn Williams