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."
Three, Two, One … Awwww
Andrew East proves that, yes, he and fiancee Shawn Johnson can be "weirdos and nerds" in a most heartfelt video that includes slice-of-life images of the engaged couple at the Indy 500, at concerts, with their heads in "huge guitars," dancing in a kitchen and "almost hurting each other" at least a few times.
The world lost a groundbreaking musical artist this past week when David Bowie passed away at the age of 69, prompting tributes from across Team USA social media channels, including from Kerri Walsh Jennings, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, Jamel Herring and Tai Babilonia, but two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir may have offered the most direct.
Come-Back Effort Underway
Slalom skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin continues to rehab her knee, with an eye toward attempting a return before the end of this season, and the time away from the slopes has clearly given her ample time in the gym. If you aren't motivated by the image, the quote should do it.
This may seem a bit vain.. But there are 2 main reasons why I'm posting this 1) I think back muscles are the coolest looking muscles out there.. And I always get really excited in the gym when my coach says my back looks strong hehe ☺️ 2) I can't help but feeling proud every time I squat more weight, do an extra pull up, bike a little harder, and generally push myself more than I thought I could. Especially at this time when every person around me is giving me reasons why I can't push harder just yet, because I'm not totally healed just yet- Being able to look at this photo and know that there was sweat, toughness, and probably a super ugly crunched up face that you can't see reminds me that I am accomplishing something every day. Maybe I'm not breaking records right now. Maybe I'm not winning races right now. It's easy to dwell on what I'm not doing and feel bad for myself, but seeing pics like this reminds me of what I AM doing right now and of what I will be able to do in the future because of it. Remember, the work you put in today shapes who you are tomorrow. Don't be the person who is always a day late. #benow #iam
Go Ahead, Make Her Day
Among the most admirable qualities of a Team USA athlete is their willingness to give back. Skylar Diggins, a WNBA guard who will likely be in the conversation for Rio when the time comes, is no stranger to the practice of making young players' days.
United States Ab Force
Rio doesn't lack for beach bodies, but it isn't every day that a group can display this level of collective fitness.
Eight members of Team USA are in Rio through Jan. 16, to train with Brazilian gymnasts, including Jake Dalton (responsible for the above image), Steven Legendre, Danell Leyva, Sam Mikulak, Alex Naddour, Paul Ruggeri, Donnell Whittenburg and Brandon Wynn. Needless to say, this trip has proven active on the photo front.
Immersing myself in the Brazilian culture 🙈👙🍌⛱🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/YPsKa19u95— Sam Mikulak (@SamuelMikulak) January 14, 2016
Still A Big Deal
Self-proclaimed on her Twitter bio as "a very small person," legendary gymnast Mary Lou Retton managed to look a little smaller next to a giant cutout of her daughter McKenna Kelley. Kelley is a freshman gymnast at Louisiana State University, and her mother, the 1984 Olympic champion, has her hashtag game in midseason form.
What's Next For Wambach?
Tough Mudder? Marathon? CrossFit? Ironman? Dodgeball? A 100-mile bike ride? Ultimate frisbee? What is next for Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach? Seems the soccer legend is looking for ideas.
Time to get fit people. Enough is enough. Ready to get back to it. Tough mudder? Marathon? Taking all suggestions!! #excited— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) January 12, 2016
What do you suggest? Dodgeball, by the way, was submitted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain. Meanwhile, Wambach's former teammates are back to work.
One More Hill To Climb
Paralympic gold medalist Mallory Weggemann had been worked over by her coach before returning home to this very literal obstacle.
Few segments of the population are more familiar with the pressures of executing at the highest level than fellow elite athletes, a scenario that had so many of Team USA's athletes churning with emotion this past NFL Wild Card weekend. With a chance to win the Vikings a playoff game in the final second, Blair Walsh, statistically one of the NFL's best kickers and within a relative chip-shot distance of advancing to play another day, pulled his kick wide left — in subzero temperatures and with something slightly less than a ideal hold.
That hold smh— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) January 10, 2016
SHANKED IT OMG! #goHawks!!— Lauren Salter (@lsesalter) January 10, 2016
I can't believe what I just 👀! 🙈🙉🙊! OMG!— Seimone Augustus (@seimoneaugustus) January 10, 2016
Definitely needs to go to Ray Finkle Football camp. Laces out. pic.twitter.com/rGhr3bUYDN— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) January 10, 2016
Well, that sums up my life as a Vikings fan in a nutshell. New team, same result.— Chuck Aoki (@Aoki5Chuck) January 10, 2016
Take A Ride
If you wanted a sense of what it's like to blast around a velodrome, we give you a front row seat from cyclist Ruth Winder's point of view. Team USA is now training in Hong Kong ... and doing so at a high rate of speed.
When her training session on the Road to Rio moves to the rollers, the view keeps getting better.
Road Well Traveled
Speaking of rides, Paralympic star Alana Nichols partied like it was 199,999.
Ahhhhhh! I've been waiting for that moment for so long! @toyotausa my 2005 Tacoma has been so good to me! I bought it used with 40K on it and haven't had a problem since! Thank you for partnering with the @usparalympics @olympics to help athletes achieve greatness! #toyota #ilovewhatyoudoforme #toyota #letsgoplaces #movingforward
Ups And Downs In Sliding
Skeleton athlete Annie O'Shea, who has her eyes on competing at the 2018 Games but who had not medaled at a world cup event since 2011, earned her first world cup win this past week. Cue priceless video.
Annie wins!!! pic.twitter.com/Xxpdks1hOa— USA Bobsled Skeleton (@USBSF) January 8, 2016
During the same event in Lake Placid, New York, fellow skeleton athlete Kyle Brown was called up to compete in the world cup event, where he recorded his best-ever world cup finish by finishing sixth. Making the moment even more special was his entourage.
Extremely successful weekend for @teamusa and @usabs ! Best World Cup finish yesterday when I took home 6th place right behind the owner of @missdixiedog . So happy I had the opportunity to share this moment with my great support staff who made the trek from NH and Boston to watch their first World Cup race. Thank you everyone for all of your kind words and support, it means a lot to me. #usaskeleton #teamusa #worldcup #outforarip #livefreeordie
Not long afterward, though, he was off to Germany, and he spent a tidy sum to get his bags out there. Which didn't exactly happen.
Heading into the weekend, his sled had been found, and his equipment was en route.
And, if you haven't yet read it, see Olympic bronze medalist skeleton athlete Matt Antoine's very personal take on his own, sometimes very lonely journey.
Why I almost walked away from skeleton. An honest look at the past year of my life. https://t.co/ssvjS0XZQR— Matt Antoine (@MattAntoine) January 14, 2016
Team USA Reaching Out To NWHL Player
On what was supposed to be one of the greatest days of her hockey life, Denna Laing, a former captain on the Princeton women's hockey team and member of the National Women's Hockey League, suffered a severe injury during a game at the NWHL’s Outdoor Women’s Classic at Gillette Stadium. According to a Facebook post updated by her family, Laing was rushed to a nearby hospital and "immediately underwent emergency surgery to repair several fractured and shattered vertebrae" in an operation that lasted seven hours. "Since then," the post read, "the breathing tube that she needed initially has been removed and a tracheostomy was performed which should help her breathing and allow her to speak soon."
Tributes poured in, and Laing's story is being watched closely by her fellow NWHL contemporaries, including prominent women's national team members.
Sending every good vibe I have to Denna Laing and her family. The entire hockey community is behind you. ❤️ https://t.co/fBsltInJQ6— Meghan Duggan (@mduggan10) January 9, 2016
Van Dyken-Rouen, who is actively underway in her own physical challenges, also had a special message:
My heart goes out to Deena Laing who was injured in a hockey game last week. #PrayersToYou— Amy Van Dyken-Rouen (@amyvandyken) January 11, 2016
Laing reported a significant step earlier this week:
Set A World Record Today
Perhaps we could all learn a little something from the sentiment of Paralympic multiple-distance world-record holder Richard Browne Jr., who has set world records at 60, 100 and 200 meters.
I have decided to go for the 400m WR this season for T44!!!— Richard Browne Jr (@winged_foot) January 9, 2016