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."
One Mad Kanuer
Casey Eichfeld, who recently qualified for his third Olympic team and also goes by the name "themadkanuer" on Instagram, like many Team USA athletes, is an elite athlete and a world traveler — and not always in that order. (On a return trip from Rio de Janeiro nine weeks ago, his itinerary looked like this: "Hotel lobby for 5 hours, airport for 3 hours, plane for 10, airport for 5, plane for 2.5.") This week, Eichfeld is back in Rio for the third time in six months, and he took this occasion to offer a closer look at his office. As you can see, his office environment is a little more hectic than most.
Also along for the ride are Eichfeld's trusty travel partners, notably his musical accompaniment.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Dominique Moceanu, Shannon Miller, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug made history by winning gymnastics team gold. This week, the "Magnificent Seven" was recognized at the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their feat. Five of the seven were on hand for the mini-reunion in Oklahoma City (with bonus gold medalist photobomb).
Sun, Sand And Surf
Olympic freeskier Aaron Blunck is obviously more than comfortable on the snow, but he proved this week at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve that he's also capable of barreling down North America's highest sand dunes.
Olympic gold medalist and tennis legend Serena Williams may be in Paris for the French Open, but her Dude Perfect appearance dropped this week, and it is impressive. Among the accessories for the Florida shoot: water balloons, a giant tennis racket and Williams' truly incredible accuracy.
Not All Dreams Come True
So many Olympic journeys are on display only during the Games, but that's not the case when the athletes play one of North America's "big four" professional sports. This time of year, NBA and NHL seasons are winding down with playoff series sending teams to the final round ... or home for the summer. On Wednesday night, after the St. Louis Blues bowed out of the playoffs (losing to two-time Olympian Joe Pavelski's San Jose Sharks) after a six-game series, Blues captain and Pavelski's Olympic teammate David Backes could barely contain his emotions. Mostly out of respect for the work of his teammates, Backes offered a clear indication of the emotional challenges involved in "playing" sports for a living.
Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington is generally pretty active on social media, using the platform to chronicle her many, many outdoor adventures. Earlier this week, though, she set out on an adventure that will keep her off the the social media grid for the better part of a month as she attempts to summit Denali.
Forced into retirement by injury in 2015, Farrington's current task presents one of the great outdoor challenges in North America. Denali rises more than 20,000 feet above sea level, and the mountaineering section of its website suggests the following: "You will need gear that will keep you warm in temperatures that can dip below -40 degrees F, 100 mph winds, heavy snowfall, freezing rain, blazing sun. Furthermore, this gear needs to be capable of doing so for weeks at a time."
Still, going into the trip, Farrington was all smiles.
Giving Back, Around The Globe
No matter where a Team USA athlete is, inspiration remains priceless. In this case, two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez and a young fan were having some fun in Argentina. Lopez, incidentally, has qualified for his fifth Olympic Games.
When In Kitzbühel ...
Multi-sport Paralympic star Alana Nichols is no stranger to adventures large and small. As of this week, she is no longer a stranger to a dirndl.
Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, together again. Forever linked in Olympic history by their Beijing Games performances in 2008, each has also since appeared on "Dancing with the Stars." This week, the pair reunited for the show's season finale. Johnson's husband Andrew East joined in, too, though Liukin claimed to have been the third wheel.
Congratulations are in order for Team USA ice hockey goaltender Jessie Vetter, who was married this past week. In attendance were a number of her teammates, including captain Meghan Duggan.
Also on the roster: National teamers Brianne McLaughlin, Brianna Decker, Kacey Bellamy, Hilary Knight, Julie Chu and Erika Lawler.
For a committed winter athlete, Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Hannah Teter certainly knows how to summer, too. Teter has spent the better part of a week in Hawaii, a trip that began with a nearly impossibly beautiful descent into Kauai. Since, she has channeled her "inner whale," hiked and pit-stopped along the Napali Coast and swam with the turtles.
She also struck a pose on a deck railing.
Man Of Many Talents
Earlier this week, three-time Paralympic medalist and world-record holder in the long jump Lex Gillette paid a visit to a school in Ohio, where he put countless smiles on faces.
Thanks to a fifth-grade science and social studies teacher named Arin Kress, we know that Gillette brought a Paralympic medal from London, he threw a football with another, and he showed off a pretty sweet handle on the basketball court. He also canned a shot on the gorgeous day in Ohio, much to the delight of students who won't soon forget the day.
Sometimes, it feels like the "Shib Sibs'" world and we're just living in it. The Billboard Music Awards show this past week provided yet another example for Olympic ice dancers Maia and Alex.
Incredible to see all of these performers LIVE! #BBMAs— Maia Shibutani (@MaiaShibutani) May 23, 2016
Wow. Bieber was ⚡️ #BBMAs— Alex Shibutani (@AlexShibutani) May 23, 2016
Leaving Las Vegas for a bit.— Maia Shibutani (@MaiaShibutani) May 24, 2016
We love making new friends!!! 😜✌🏼️
👻 shibsibs pic.twitter.com/40PXfzZA0g
Olympic alpine skiing legend Lindsey Vonn also attended the Billboard Music Awards with a sibling, though in addition to being at the show, she was also in the show.
Good Night, Grandma
Referring to Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman as some variation of "Grandma" is natural for Rio medal favorite Simone Biles. But not for reasons you might expect. Instead of coming from, say, their relative age difference, it's because Raisman, as NBC found out, likes her sleep. And if that means going to bed early, so be it, even when it invites the derisive nickname from Biles on her birthday.
Happy 22nd Birthday Grams 👵🏽💜 love you so much&have an amazing day! Best Wishes 🎉 thanks for being a role model!!! 💋 pic.twitter.com/kFY8lQHCSV— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) May 25, 2016
Hahaha grandma is in bed but appreciates your kind tweet 😂 https://t.co/U1nhMaveaG— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) May 26, 2016
National champion boxer Cam F. Awesome has been training at altitude in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the sometimes-standup comic took on the serious challenge of "The Incline" this week. In fact, he took it on twice, climbing what appears to be a vertical trail and clocking a PR in 43 minutes.
I did the incline again this morning. Did it in 43 minutes to the top...my personal record. pic.twitter.com/fsNklXgwaF— Cam F Awesome (@CamFAwesome) May 24, 2016
City Vs. Country
Olympic figure skater Sasha Cohen may have grown up in California, but she has clearly taken to New York City in recent years. A week ago, she graduated from Columbia, but she also appreciates the countryside. Specifically, the English and Scottish countryside.
A Morsel Of Honesty
At first, this probably seemed like a very good idea for two-time Paralympic discus champion Jeremy Campbell.
I misplaced a cookie in my bed.— Jeremy Campbell (@JeremyKCampbell) May 26, 2016