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."
First, A Political Message
This being an election year, social media feeds have brimmed with posts dedicated to that particular topic for months. On Monday night, the first of the presidential candidate debates drew more than 80 million viewers to what was at times a tense program. No matter your political leanings, Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg found perhaps the perfect way to puncture the tension on Twitter.
Do you think Lester's thinking "Man I wish I was shredding with Sage" right now? pic.twitter.com/nd1irypimh— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) September 27, 2016
Team USA Goes To Washington
With Washington in mind, this also marks one of the great weeks on the Olympic cycle’s schedule: White House week. As you might imagine, when Team USA, traveling more than 500 strong, visits Pennsylvania Avenue, timelines are going to erupt with rumination, selfies and photographic celebrations. Here, a few of our favorites from Thursday:
I just checked off the #1 thing on my bucket list, which was to meet Barack Obama!!! Not only did I just meet the President! I also met the VP-Biden and First Lady Michelle! It was an honor to be at the White House to celebrate Team USA Olympians and Paralympians performance in Rio De Janeiro! #TeamUSAinDC #usatf #iLoveYouObamaDontLeaveUs
As an unfortunate postscript, Gabby Douglas was not able to join the fun with the Final Five:
White House Eve
Prior to visiting the White House, a constellation of Team USA’s stars descended upon Washington, D.C., for some sightseeing and the Wednesday evening Team USA Awards, presented by Dow, Best of the Games. Again, as you might imagine, there were photo ops o’ plenty. A collection of our favorites …
Can’t teach height …
Rain can’t dampen these spirits …
Rings are the thing …
Check out that 💎 BLING 💎 pic.twitter.com/14QU1oXhWe— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) September 28, 2016
olympic ring 👑 pic.twitter.com/gehGflbqby— Ashley Spencer (@theTrackQueen) September 28, 2016
Golden selfie …
Swimming’s 400 stars …
Awards prep …
Strength in numbers …
Almost showtime …
That’s a wrap …
Borrowed gold …
Apres awards …
For a full run of Instagram goodness, check out https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/teamusaindc/.
Maryland natives and medal-winning Paralympic sisters Hannah and Tatyana McFadden were invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday night in Baltimore, and they put in some time practicing beforehand, too.
The next day, Rio Paralympic gold medalist swimmers McKenzie Coan and Brad Snyder threw out their own side-by-side ceremonial first pitches.
All in all, this has been a pretty good week for the Olympic gymnastics champions. In addition to the D.C. trip and the Team USA Awards recognition, the gymnasts also had a visit from some dancing royalty at a recent Kellogg's Tour of Champions stop in Los Angeles.
Danell Leyva won two medals in Rio, but this private lesson left him both #honored and #starstruck.
Teammate Sam Mikulak picked up some pointers, too.
Got some pointers for my Carlton 👯 pic.twitter.com/9qVoxDPVuF— Sam Mikulak (@SamuelMikulak) September 25, 2016
There are honors, and there are honors. This week, two-time Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs enjoyed one of the great honors in having the gym at Winslow Township High School, his alma mater, named after him.
Thank you to Dr. Poteat and the entire Winslow Township Board of Education for today! It's truly an honor! Jordan Burroughs Gymnasium! pic.twitter.com/Jt9GWJGLeY— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) September 24, 2016
Thankful. 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/sKqZnZCuRn— Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) September 25, 2016
Connor Fields finished seventh in London, but four long, hard years of work paid off this past month in Rio, where Fields made history as Team USA’s first BMX gold medalist. For a sense of just how much speed is required to race at an elite level, take a ride along with Fields, who took a lap around Australia’s Sleeman Sports Complex.
Some Things Never Get Old
No matter the year, no matter the place, no matter the mood, Ashley Spencer is going to have an Olympic medal to both validate her hard work and to remind her of the honor that she is among the very best to ever compete in the 400-meter hurdles.
Blessed . pic.twitter.com/SM8Vxy7BVw— Ashley Spencer (@theTrackQueen) September 25, 2016
After one of the great stories in Rio, that authored by Katie Ledecky, if you’ll recall, she returned to the United States to play a part in one of the great ceremonial first pitch moments when she turned one of baseball’s youngest stars, the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, into a willful hanger for her medals. Ledecky left the ballpark with her medals, four golds and a silver, but she also left behind a nice souvenir: a swim cap. Which Harper put to use when Washington clinched the National League East.
Just keep swimming ...— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 25, 2016
Just keep swimming ...
Just keep swimming ... pic.twitter.com/6U2tpuZmeC
It’s Amazing Out There
After a trip to Rio that included a gold and a silver for the Eaton family, two-time Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton and his Canadian heptathlete wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton, they hit the road. Here, Ashton checks in from an elevated position in Panorama Ridge, British Columbia, near Whistler.
Olympic legend and noted golf nut Michael Phelps has a pretty nice weekend set up for himself in Minnesota, where the United States is hosting this edition of the Ryder Cup. After his first few days in town, it’s so far, so good.
The Ryder Cup has also been good to Boomer.
A two-time relay teammate of Phelps on Olympic champion 4x200-meter freestyle foursomes, Ricky Berens also had himself a nice golfing experience this week: He played Pebble. And he only lost two balls.
Best Seat In The House
Back to the Ryder Cup for a moment. Though he isn’t playing this week at Hazeltine, Bubba Watson, not far removed playing in Rio, will be very close to the action. In fact, he’ll have his very own front-row seat as the United States’ vice captain. With that comes a sharp set of wheels.
Countdown Is On
Sure, 500 is a big number, but when the Olympic Winter Games are on the other side of all those days, one can understand why 2010 Olympic bobsled champion and 2018 hopeful Justin Olsen would be looking forward to the countdown.
Olsen wasn’t alone, either.
Yes, Winter Is Coming …
… Even if Olympic snowboarding champion Hannah Teter has to chase it around the world.