What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls — 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."
Mime, All Mime
Jessie Diggins starts us off this week with an Instagram post that almost has to be seen to be believed. While knocking out a few pull-ups, the 2014 Olympic cross-country skier adds a degree of difficulty by mime-walking up an imaginary set of steps in a video that is at once a show of incredible strength and control. Plus, it’s mesmerizing.
Diggins, a proud Minnesotan, also sends her regards from the great outdoors.
Chicago Is …
Chicago is Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles’ kind of town. At least it was for a day this past week. First, as so many visitors to the Windy City are, Biles was welcomed by O’Hare International Airport. Though she did get a little closer to the action than most of us ever will.
Biles transitioned to visit a few of Chicago's storied pro sports franchises, too, including the Blackhawks and two-time Olympian Patrick Kane, who is the reigning NHL Hart Trophy winner as the league MVP and also the first U.S.-born player ever to win the trophy.
And how about basketball, too? Hello, Bulls …
Anddddd back to hockey for the evening …
hearing the national anthem gives me chills every time— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2016
First In The Second City
The city of Chicago also played host to the feats of the incomparable Tatyana McFadden. Over the weekend, the University of Illinois alum and seven-time Paralympic gold medalist won her remarkable sixth consecutive Chicago Marathon in the women's wheelchair division with a time of 1:42:28, just over a minute off the record she set in 2015 at 1:41:10.
Team USA was well-represented on the podium, too, thanks to the efforts of fellow Rio Paralympian Amanda McGrory, who finished third.
McFadden has since moved on to appear at a women’s sports summit in California, where she shared her inspiring story — a hint of which she shared in the below Instagram post: “Surround yourself with positive people and learn from failures that later will turn into success.”
Wow thank you so much @espnw for having me speak at your #womensportsummit. Today we discussed the important values of vision, action and impact which fit perfectly into my life story. These values can be incorporated in anyone's life. So much to write so I will keep it brief but for mine it was vision: I never saw myself different. I have always seen myself as a normal person who has had the love, passion, and drive for sports. By playing multiple sports growing up I gained the love for track. I have always seen myself as a Paralympic athlete by the age of 10. Action: My family got me involved in sports at a young age through a local sports club. When I told them I had a dream of going to the 2004 Paralympics, they helped me get to trials. My coaches and teammates have always pushed me to be the best. My coach who believed that I could do my first marathon back in 2009 when I thought I couldn't. I am so grateful for these people in my life. Impact: I hope that my story and my journey in life will have impact to the youth and adolescents with or without athletes that your dreams are not too big or impractical because they are yours. If you have a vision go for it. Surround yourself with positive people and learn from failures that later will turn into success. But most importantly have fun! You never know who you might influence. 💕💕
Believe it or not, it’s ice hockey season, as the NHL is now underway (hence Biles’ first NHL game experience). And never in the history of the league had a rookie ever scored four goals in his first game. Until Wednesday night, when the first overall pick in the June draft, Auston Matthews, all of 19 years old and a native of Arizona, scored four goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs on opening night. Three of those goals came on his first three NHL shots. For a few years now, Matthews has been considered central to the future of USA Hockey. Certainly, his debut suggested as much.
His night blew up on Twitter, taking over one of the top five trending spots for more than six hours, and impressing Team USA women’s, men’s and sled hockey stars alike.
Ok Auston, we get it. You're better than all of us humans— Josh Pauls (@spudsusa27) October 13, 2016
Think the fans would be going crazy if this game was in Toronto? @AM34 what a start.!!— Mike Modano (@9modano) October 13, 2016
Speaking of hockey …
About a year ago, Amanda Kessel, one of the very best women’s hockey players in the world who once recorded 100 points in a single NCAA season while with the University of Minnesota, probably could not have imagined her life as it is now. In that time, Kessel, a Sochi Olympian and the sister of two-time Olympian Phil Kessel, has gone from suffering significant effects of a concussion that kept her away from the game to playing in the NWHL as the league’s highest-paid player. Over this past weekend, her story ran in The New York Times.
NBA Approaching, Too
If the NHL has debuted for its 2016-17, the NBA season can’t be far behind. In fact, opening night is set for Oct. 25 with three games, the first of which will feature a pair of multiple-time Olympians in Carmelo Anthony, who in Rio became Team USA’s all-time leading scorer in Olympic play, and LeBron James, leader of the defending NBA champion Cavs. In preseason play this past week, King James went to the floor for breast cancer awareness.
Tensions Run High
If you want to hear a couple of Olympic track stars, one of whom, Ashton Eaton, is the two-time defending Olympic champion and world-record holder in the decathlon, complaining about the arduousness of a walk, take a look at the below. But, unless you can cover 48 kilometers of steep, muddy, graveled treacherousness in 30 hours without complaint, you may not have earned the right to criticize.
Accomplished on snow skis, Daron Rahlves, who competed in three Olympic Winter Games as an alpine racer and in Vancouver in skicross, also shows an impressive aptitude on water skis.
She’s Back, Part II
The countdown to Dec. 30 — it’s a Friday — is on. UFC fans can mark that day down for the return of retired Olympic judoka Ronda Rousey, who competed at the 2004 Athens Games and earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. Considering the hashtag game, Rousey is counting down the days, too.
Congratulations are in order for Rio bronze medalist sprinter Ashley Spencer …
Winter On Their Minds
This time of year may sting for some — after all, summer is the season of choice for so many, particularly athletes who appreciate the great outdoors for training — but there are also athletes who look forward to the leaves turning and falling, the mornings growing cooler and the days getting shorter. For them, winter is approaching. And it’s time to celebrate.
Some are already getting the jump on winter, in Sweden and in New Zealand …
Three-time Olympian Steven Nyman may not yet be on the snow, but he is in the gym and thinking about it.
Sochi Olympian Sophie Caldwell, though, is squeezing out the last few days of her own summer before turning her attention back to cross-country skiing.
And, lest anyone forgets, before we get to winter, we’ll have to get through Halloween. Thanks to wrestler Sarah Hildebrandt, who competed in Olympic Trials while battling injury on the Road to Rio, gives us a hint of what we’re in for.
Look at my baby boy all ready for Halloween 😍😭🎃 pic.twitter.com/pzdZOfDKTW— Sarah Hildebrandt (@sarhilde) October 12, 2016
Olympic boxer Jamel Herring also has some Halloween game in the family.