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Red, White & Trending: Jan. 1-7

By Jamie MacDonald | Jan. 08, 2016, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

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."

Making History

For even a very good stand-up skier, Silverton Mountain is not for the faint of heart. From the Colorado mountain's website: "It is the highest ski area in North America with a peak of 13,487’, and it is also the steepest with no easy way down."

No easy way down? Pardon?

This sounds like just the perfect sort of challenge for Alana Nichols, a Paralympic gold medalist in both alpine skiing and wheelchair basketball who just happens to have her eyes set on Rio for sprint kayaking. This past week, she made history on skis.

There are no beginner runs at the mountain, either, where its website claims the "easiest" run is a 35-degree grade, liability releases are mandatory and avalanche gear is required.

Loving this shot from @silvertonskiandbike!!! #firstyfirsty #firstadaptivedecent #seriouslinechoice #silvertonmountain

A photo posted by Alana Nichols (@alanathejane) on

Congratulations, Alana.

From The NFL To … Rio?

We learned earlier this week that 2012 Olympian and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin would turn his attention to making a second consecutive Olympic team in the long jump. Not only is he among the world's best long jumpers — and fast, at that (watch the video below, for proof) -- he's also pretty good with an inspiring line. (And kudos for that M-G personal brand logo.)

Get Rich Quick

While the Powerball pot grew past $400 million early in the week, interest in the easy retirement plan ballooned with it. And even though no one managed to win "the big one" (hey, that's more for us on the estimated $700 million in the next draw), there were more than a handful of instant millionaires.

One of those tickets was purchased at the Fredonia Food Mart in the Western New York village of Fredonia, population around 10,000, and a village near and dear to 2012 Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr's heart. It just so happens that Suhr has a fairly substantial connection to the Fredonia Food Mart.

The story gets even better when the winner walks through the door to what is likely a life-altering surprise …

Raisman's Wild Friday

This year's NHL Winter Classic took place at the home of the New England Patriots, giving sports fans something to watch on New Year's Day, but it gave Massachusetts native and Olympic gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman something to do on New Year's Day. The Needham native even kicked in a Mass accent for a tweet.

She capped off the long day, which saw her hometown Bruins lose to the rival Canadiens, thusly:

Gift That Keeps On Giving

It's no secret that Olympic gold medalist tennis star Andre Agassi is active in his community, going so far as to found a charter school in his hometown of Las Vegas, and he recently explained some of the motivations behind his educational efforts.

He was out to change the lives of children. "My goal was to show that children don't fail us, we fail them," he says.

Over the years, Agassi has been thinking about "scalability" for this kind of work, and he expanded on that through a video posted this week from CES 2016.

Upside Down And Backward

Defending Olympic champion and world-record holder in the decathlon Ashton Eaton, who announced this past week that he will compete at the March 17-20 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, kicked off the calendar training year early. In addition to his work on the track in Santa Barbara, California, his video production game is also in fine form.

Northern Exposure

The Vikings topping rival and frequent nemesis Green Bay had a number of Team USA athletes smiling, including Minnesota Lynx star Lindsay Whalen, and the broadcast took on added significance for those with their eyes on Rio. Paralympic gold medalist Mallory Weggemann managed to capture the moment.

On Target

In the event you thought the Olympic sport of archery required little more than simply standing still for long stretches of time and that, perhaps, fitness was an afterthought, we enter 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jake Kaminski as a dissenting opinion.

Olympic gold and two-time Olympic bronze medalist Kelly Clark probably had a better Thursday than most of us.

Today was a good day @mammothmountain! @ioncamera #ridingisthereason #mammothstories

A photo posted by kelly clark (@thekellyclark) on

Unique Warm-Up

The women of USA Volleyball can earn another Team USA berth in Rio with a win at a round-robin tournament featuring Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic this week in Lincoln, Nebraska. Team USA, the top-ranked team in the world and defending world champion, opened with a Thursday evening win over Canada, perhaps fueled by this warm-up act from Kelsey Robinson.

To learn a little more about Team USA, meet middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo:

Parting Thoughts

Multi-medal gymnastics favorite in Rio, Simone Biles:

Six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen:

Related Athletes

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Alana Nichols

Alpine Skiing
Wheelchair Basketball
US Paralympics
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Marquise Goodwin

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Jennifer Suhr

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Aly Raisman

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Ashton Eaton

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Jake Kaminski

Recurve Archery
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Kelsey Robinson