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."
Frame It On Rio
More than ever, this is a social Olympics. Timelines of Olympic and Paralympic athletes, a full week away from the Games, are already brimming with the kinds of emotions you might imagine from them. Joy, hope, expectation, gratitude. Mostly, though, these are the dream days, the calm before the storm for which they've prepared over the previous four years. Four long years, often of sacrifice, for these moments. And they are glorious.
Team "processing" is perhaps the most significant step on the long Road to Rio. It's a somewhat unfortunately technical term that could be described by many on the outside looking in as "the best day ever." Besides the procedural, this is where Team USA athletes pick up so much of their Rio swag.
Double sculls rower Meghan O'Leary managed to set up a pretty good en-route-to-Rio shot from IAH.
The U.S. Olympic Women's Soccer Team offered an inside look.
I'm ready!!! Thank you @united! #RoadToRio 🇺🇸🏅 pic.twitter.com/8R5wkIKViP— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) July 28, 2016
Nice & cozy! #SkyRoadtoRio ✈️🛌 pic.twitter.com/ihlKC2rGDI— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) July 28, 2016
Within a few hours, it all became that much more real.
Wish You Were Here
Some athletes, of course, are already in Rio, including perhaps the world's best gymnastics quintet.
And it wasn't long before noted nap enthusiast Aly Raisman logged her first of the Games.
1st nap in Rio in the books... Still half asleep 🙈 pic.twitter.com/Uj11h5H2Ob— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) July 27, 2016
Team USA has also managed to get in some work, of course.
| first workout in the books | USA takes RIO | pic.twitter.com/sH6SkQkRYF— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 28, 2016
Diver Kassidy Cook checked in from the athletes' village with a creative suite of selfies.
Adventuring around the village today 🇺🇸🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/nb8UZdRNgR— Kassidy Cook (@KassidyCook1) July 27, 2016
Three-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld surveyed his version of a stream of dreams.
It is so special to be back here. I have waited for this moment, and at last the Olympics are nearly here! #Rio2016 pic.twitter.com/yZ6mvdUCxu— Casey Eichfeld (@kckanu) July 25, 2016
Eichfeld and his crew had an escort to IAH, courtesy Houston PD.
The boys in blue, supporting the red, white & blue on the #RoadToRio. Thank you, @houstonpolice! pic.twitter.com/r0HHnInPMt— Casey Eichfeld (@kckanu) July 23, 2016
If you've ever spent time traveling with a team, from little league baseball tournaments to soccer road trips to camps for gymnastics or hockey or basketball or track and field or swimming, you probably still have memories of the trips. Traveling for Team USA isn't all that different at times — there's still a good deal of generally trying to find interesting ways to fill the downtime.
In this case, it means having a pair of swimmers, with eight Olympic medals between them, work with a violin. Take it away Elizabeth Beisel and Allison Schmitt. Thanks to first-time Olympian Kathleen Baker for capturing the moment.
Team USA offering violin lessons nightly @ebeisel34 @arschmitty pic.twitter.com/KCT6aTXBAd— Kathleen Baker (@KathleenBaker2) July 26, 2016
Prior to taking off for their Rio adventure, all four volleyball teams enjoyed a sendoff in Anaheim, California, which included a trip to the ballpark and a chance for Courtney Thompson to show off her pitching arm.
Getting our beach and indoor #Olympians in a group shot as send off to #Rio2016. What a great day. @City_of_Anaheim pic.twitter.com/0ucjxOIa74— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) July 21, 2016
Thanks for joining us #AtTheBigA tonight, @usavolleyball! Best wishes on your journey at #RioOlympics. #RoadToRio pic.twitter.com/og7JbkuMm6— Angels (@Angels) July 21, 2016
It should be noted that Team USA does not always travel light, as evidenced by Olympic fencer Dagmara Wozniak's catching teammate and 2012 Opening Ceremony flag bearer Mariel Zagunis behind a mountain of gear.
It's just OUR stuff😱... Special thanks to @Nike and @RalphLauren for all the gear! #swaggedout #roadtorio pic.twitter.com/wClT8jT1Ra— Dagmara Wozniak (@DagaUSAFencing) July 25, 2016
If you're wondering just how to spot the U.S. Olympic Men's Gymnastics Team, keep an eye out for this 'do.
My barber hooked me up with a patriotic haircut ✂️🇺🇸😉👌#Ready4Rio pic.twitter.com/tKPjTLk2Es— Sam Mikulak (@SamuelMikulak) July 24, 2016
Guess who else is going to the Games? Tara and Johnny, who will work as broadcasters in Rio. Take a listen below to learn how the dynamic duo met.
Water polo star and five-time Olympian Tony Azevedo has done this before, of course, but it's never easy to leave loved ones.
Legends Live On
USA Water Polo's Maggie Steffens is among the very best players in the world (now 23, she scored a tournament-high 21 goals as a 19-year-old in London), and her Olympic dreams, which will continue in Rio, began with a soccer player: legend Mia Hamm.
When you meet your idol & the woman who kickstarted your Olympic dream 🙌🏼 #starstruck Thank YOU @MiaHamm #fullcircle pic.twitter.com/bUZz2Mn5EV— Maggie Steffens (@maggiesteffens) July 25, 2016
Deep Pool Of Emojis
What do you get the man who has so much? A fleet of emojis.
Because ... Winter
Olympic winter athletes are in training, too, of course. Olympic gold medalist bobsledder Steven Holcomb kicked off the week in style, setting a personal record.
While we're on the topic of bobsledders, California native Carlo Valdes, a former wide receiver and track athlete at UCLA, has long since turned his attention to bobsled. Valdes has teamed up with Holcomb in both world cup and world championship races, but you could find him this week up in Lake Placid, New York, setting his own PR and starring in a video that does a nice job of the kind of strength and speed required to get a bobsled, even a trainer on wheels, out of the gate.
Achilles has been feeling great as of late. Pushed with @codiebascue13 today and PRd in Power Snatch 110kg/242lbs x2 pic.twitter.com/y1s19JUe12— Carlo Valdes (@CarloValdes_USA) July 26, 2016
Olympic alpine ski racer Alice McKennis is chasing winter much more literally, and she had to travel more than 20 hours, all the way to New Zealand, to find it.
Back in the saddle...⛷🎿 #nz #roundhill #tbarfordayz pic.twitter.com/vgcqXiJmbH— AliceMckennis (@AliceMckennis) July 26, 2016
Olympic champions Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin, too …
Remembering how to Slalom. Yes, I just used slalom as a verb. "To slalom- the act of ruling quick turns and winter life in general." For the first part of that.. It's a work in progress. For the second part I have one piece of advice- hats, scarves, and toe warmers baby. (Some people don't believe in toe warmers. Don't mind them, they're CRAZY!) #welcomebacktowinter #slaloming #hellofromtheinside #downunda #huphup #sheskis #weareskiing
He Donut Care
Birthday wishes were in order earlier this week for the first-ever Olympic snowboard slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg, who beat the heat the old-fashioned way: in a pool and on a pink frosting donut float.
It's my birthday and I donut care if I lay here all day ✌️🍩 pic.twitter.com/KSr7ftLDN4— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) July 27, 2016
Congratulations are in order for Olympic ice hockey medalist T.J. Oshie and two-time Olympic gold medalist alpine ski racer Ted Ligety. Not only are they celebrating their anniversaries, but they also managed to recognize the milestone publicly.
Still the luckiest man in the world!Thanks for making me as happy each day as I was on this one. Happy Anniversary! pic.twitter.com/D88Yih1aRr— TJ Oshie (@TJOshie77) July 25, 2016