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."
Change Of Plans
Women's national soccer team forward Sydney Leroux won't be competing in Rio, and she has a wonderful excuse. She also had a wonderful way of making her formal announcement, which earned more than 12,000 retweets and more than 25,000 likes.
Surprise! My plans have changed for this summer. @Ddwyer14 and I are so excited to announce... pic.twitter.com/99knKtCvTO— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) January 26, 2016
The first to comment on the good news? Team USA soccer legend Mia Hamm.
@sydneyleroux @Ddwyer14 Congrats to you both. Prepare for the most amazing ride of your lives .— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) January 26, 2016
If Meghan Klingenberg is going to rip off a move like this at full speed during Team USA's friendly against Ireland, it's worth watching a few times. And in slow motion.
Kling.En.Berg. 🔥✂️ #RoadToRio https://t.co/v7tDMRwUWf— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) January 26, 2016
Congratulations are also in order for teenager Mallory Pugh, who managed to make quite a first impression in a game that also included Alex Morgan's 100th national team cap.
When you score on your debut at just 17years old, you get mobbed by your teammates. Congrats, @MalPugh! pic.twitter.com/UasnlSI5Ue— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) January 24, 2016
And, in injury news, we learned that Megan Rapinoe has her eyes set on Rio. This, apparently, is her game face:
I said get my good side!! And she did💁🏼 https://t.co/E2DoinJjCy pic.twitter.com/Jnq28lGvli— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) January 24, 2016
Jonas vs. Olympian
Team USA canoe slalom Olympian Casey Eichfeld took it upon himself to document the superstorm that crashed hard through the Washington, D.C., area — essentially his front yard. Take it away, Casey.
Here we go! The first flakes are falling in the Potomac area. We have the yard stick ready in the lawn. Let's see how much we get! Bring it Snowzilla! But don't bring it on Monday because I want my flight to Australia to leave on time! #wintertraining #snowzilla #readyforsnow #bringiton #finallysomewinter
Eichfeld has since reported from Australia, where he'll spend the next month training.
Meanwhile, on Paradise (Island, that is), the LPGA's 2016 season is underway. The Bahamas LPGA Classic kicks off this season with direct implications on the field that will line up in Rio, where the United States has a shot at placing the maximum four golfers in the women's field.
Though if the team had been selected at the end of the 2015 season, only Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr would make the team, strong 2016 showings from Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome, Gerina Piller and Alison Lee, among a handful of others, could work in Team USA's favor. In other words, from a Bahamian pro-am event earlier this week, we may be looking at a couple of future Olympians all dressed up with places to go in 2016.
Thompson, barely 21 years old, finished one spot behind Lewis in fifth on the LPGA's 2015 money list, has a game that could take her even higher, particularly with a major win. But her No. 1 goal this season is to represent her country in Rio.
Regrets, He Has At Least One
Olympic gold medalist tennis star Andre Agassi, known early in his career as much for style as substance, would change something fundamental about his look back in those days.
👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻Go get a haircut! https://t.co/X9gUNY6ZHf— Andre Agassi (@AndreAgassi) January 28, 2016
Horton Hears A Woohoo
How much has changed since 2011? Instagram was only a year old at the time. And, checking in from Cypress, Texas, is gymnast Jonathan Horton, using the platform to show off a vault he hadn't worked since 2011. Horton's own Road to Rio has seen many bumps over the past few years, but this is what it looks like to grind out training session after training session in relative obscurity while hoping to earn a spot on his third Olympic team.
So it isn't pretty, or landed very well, but this is the first time I have put this vault onto a hard competition like surface since 2011. I need to not get into the tuck position so early for a little extra height, but overall I'm excited to be doing this consistently in training again. #road2rio #ineverquit
A Wicked Good Time
Fresh off a win at this past weekend's U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Maia Shibutani hinted at a new career, that of playing goaltender for the NHL's Bruins in Boston, where Team USA could be found this week during media appearances in advance of the city's 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
At the @tdgarden for @Worlds2016 Media! I know Tuukka is 👌🏼, but I'm here if you need me @NHLBruins! pic.twitter.com/ejvmQ5mNQY— Maia Shibutani (@MaiaShibutani) January 26, 2016
Thankfully, Maia and her brother/skating partner Alex Shibutani are likely to stick with their day jobs, as seen in a video compiled by the Bruins that stars a number of Team USA Olympians and newly minted U.S. champions.
U.S. figure skaters took to the ice on Tues.'s Media Day for 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships -- WATCH: https://t.co/uOipQEHyWI— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 28, 2016
Take A Ride With Us
Team USA bobsledder Sam Michener dropped out of medical school to chase an Olympic dream to PyeongChang, South Korea, and his unique angles have been his followers' gains. There was the Christmas training, the yogi teammates and the 150 kg. lifts. This week, he also shared this unique angle:
Hard To Top This View
A life of training has its advantages. Multi-sport Paralympic medalist and star Oksana Masters recently took advantage of her natural surroundings for one last training session before getting to work.
Awesome last ski before heading to South Korea with @USParaNordic team & getting kimchi along with some racing❄️🎿😏 pic.twitter.com/L7FU9MvpqW— Oksana Masters (@OksanaMasters) January 24, 2016
Once the U.S. Paralympics Nordic team arrived in PyeongChang, 2010 Paralympic nordic skiing bronze medalist Andy Soule, for perhaps a fleeting moment, considered what might look like a very bad idea.
@ASouleUSA with @USParaNordic in PyeongChang Korea pondering ski jumping in a Nordic sit ski #TexasSkiJumpingTeam pic.twitter.com/e2ZiPlYpFf— John Farra (@JohnFarra) January 26, 2016
Thanks to the NFL action of the previous weekend, the big game is now set after an AFC Championship game that came down to the Denver Broncos closing out a win late and an NFC Championship game that saw the Carolina Panthers scoring early and often. Kudos to 2012 Olympic silver medalist volleyball player Destinee Hooker, who called the finale.
I say Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos for the Super Bowl Game. What about you? 🏈🏆— Destinee Hooker (@destineehooker) January 24, 2016
The optimism of New England native and 2014 Olympic freestyle skier Mac Bohonnon, on the other hand, turned out to be unfounded. Still, he earns high marks for creativity.
It's a simple conversation - Brady is the greatest ever. Time to bring an extra @Patriots jersey to Denver... pic.twitter.com/PIHRw6Logb— Mac Bohonnon (@MacBohonnon) January 23, 2016
Who do you like next week, Destinee?
No Free Ride In Sled Hockey
This past weekend, the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team landed on the Sunday edition of the "Today" show, featuring Nikko Landeros, Luke McDermott, Bo Reichenbach and Josh Sweeney, along with head coach and former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jeff Sauer.
If you've ever wondered about how much speed and talent is required for sled hockey, or if you were wondering about just what the sport requires from some of the top Paralympic athletes in the world, this piece captures it all well. "To play, you have to be pretty extraordinary," says the video's host, NBC's Craig Melvin.
On the ice this past week, Team USA won the 2016 World Sled Hockey Challenge, a recap of which Sauer provides below.
Here Comes The Boom
During the festivities for the NWHL's All-Star Game, 2014 Olympic silver medalist Megan Bozek, now a member of the league's Buffalo Beauts, impressed with a heavy slap shot.
We knew it! @meganebozek with the 88mph BLAST wins it! #braidpower #bozblast pic.twitter.com/Z1ZCJhvpCq— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) January 24, 2016
Few know life on the road better than Team USA athletes who compete overseas. But that doesn't mean occasional rookie mistakes are left behind forever. Right, Jessie Diggins? Diggins, 2014 Olympic cross-country skier, had to get creative when her yogurt spent a bit too much time outside in the Czech air.
"Celebrity Apprentice" fans will have a Team USA connection this upcoming season in the form of four-time gold medalist basketball star Lisa Leslie. Checking in at 6-foot-5, the former USC Trojan and three-time WNBA MVP (2001, 2004, 2006) won't be hard to spot in the crowd.
Looking for a speedskater-approved workout exercise? As of Friday, the 2016 ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships are underway in Sofia, Bulgaria through Jan. 31. Team USA has sent eight skaters, including Aaron Tran, who also represented Team USA in last year’s World Junior Championship in Granada, Spain.
A little dryland with @AaronVaughnTran from Bulgaria. #WJChSofia pic.twitter.com/I4zpHTDPPv— US Speedskating (@USSpeedskating) January 26, 2016