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."
The stories of U.S. National Sled Hockey Team head coach Jeff Sauer’s ability to find a good meal border on folklore. And, by all accounts, there were few better dinner companions. The former head coach at Wisconsin, where he won two national titles and coached Olympians Jim Johannson, Tony Granto and Mike Richter, also coached Team USA’s deaf hockey team.
He will be missed, particularly, and quite obviously, by his players.
No man had as profound an impact on my hockey career as Jeff Sauer did. It was an honor to be your player. Rest in peace Coach— Josh Pauls (@spudsusa27) February 3, 2017
Coach Sauer epitomized what it meant to be an ambassador, a hero, and a role model. I've idolized him for several years and will continue to— Steve Cash (@stevecash34) February 2, 2017
Extremely sad day in the hockey world! This man taught me so much about being a pro on & off the ice! The hockey world lost a great one! 😔 https://t.co/QKy5lXOWo0— Taylor Lipsett (@usasledsniper7) February 2, 2017
Perfect 10s don’t come often, even for elite gymnasts, a group in which Fierce Fiver Kyla Ross can comfortably count herself. Retired from international competition, she’s starring at UCLA these days, and her 10 on the uneven bars brought her team, with the help of a fellow Olympian, to their feet for a great little scene this past week.
In a Team USA twist, the last UCLA gymnast to record a 10 on the uneven bars was Samantha Peszek, who just happened to be calling the action for a broadcast.
Brought tears to my eyes. SO proud of her! https://t.co/G85kBKrHDx— Samantha Peszek (@samanthapeszek) January 28, 2017
After a rocky road through the end of 2016, 2017 has turned around for Paralympic snowboarding star Amy Purdy. For starters, Purdy has been rehabbing from her debilitating bout of rhabdomyolysis, including carving beautiful arcs in a return to the slopes, more than 100,000 views of her Facebook Live discussing her new book, “On My Own Two Feet,” and, this past weekend, getting her keynote game going strong. Here’s to 2017!
Team USA Holiday
So much of what makes the Olympic and Paralympic movements great in this country comes down to the opportunities for girls and women to perform among and against the very best in the world. To say nothing of the entertainment and inspiration that comes out of the events, countless athletic dreams are born while watching. It’s no wonder Team USA’s women — from the pool, to the ice, to the courts, to the classroom, to the podium and more — came out to support National Girls and Women in Sports Day this past week in social spaces.
Only 16 players before Jozy Altidore earned his 100th cap this past week had reached the magic number for Team USA. Could you name them all? In 1:43 of video gold, Altidore wrestles with his own memory to, quite impressively, come up with all 16 and succeeds — but not without losing a few rounds along the way.
Heading into #100, a milestone Altidore reached younger than any USMNT player not named Landon Donovan, U.S. Soccer compiled a sizzle reel of highlights.
On the other hand, three Team USA players earned their first caps with this past week’s 0-0 draw with Serbia.
On Your Mark
Some basketball players don’t like to leave a practice without making a final basket. “Don’t leave on a miss,” they say. In this case, Khatuna Lorig, the Olympic medalist who has her eyes on a sixth Games, called it a day after this impressive run.
Not only was 2016 pretty fantastic for Final Five Olympic champion and "Dancing with the Stars" winner Laurie Hernandez, but she also has a nice start going on 2017. The teenager is now a bestselling author, too.
WOW, I never thought I’d be a New York Times bestselling author! Thank you all for supporting me always!! 📚❤😘🤗😱💙 pic.twitter.com/iH40CCMxks— Laurie Hernandez ➶ (@lzhernandez02) February 1, 2017
Hernandez also cracked 400,000 Twitter followers this past week.
Simply The Best
What do you get when you cross a quartet of Team USA’s top track discipline stars with 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,200 meters and 1,600 meters? In this case, a world record in the women’s distance medley relay. With Sydney McLaughlin running the 400, Brenda Martinez running the 800, Emma Coburn the 1,200 and Jenny Simpson the 1,600, the foursome lowered the record — by nearly two seconds — to 10:40.31.
If the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic is any indication, this shapes up as a very nice year for the United States on the women’s golf tour. Six U.S.-born players finished among the top seven, including all three Rio Olympians: Lexi Thompson, who shot a second-round 61, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller — who finished Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively. Thompson, though, lost to Solheim Cup teammate Brittany Lincicome in a playoff.
Fore-Cast, Part 2
This past week, the 16th at the Phoenix Open was the place to be for golf fans. Well, golf fans who like to make a lot of noise, that is, at the notoriously loud event. Olympic legend Michael Phelps even went with his signature pre-swim routine.
His tee shot, however, didn’t receive great reviews from the man himself.
Team USA was well-represented at this past weekend’s NHL All-Star Game, due in large part to a trio of Midwesterners and Olympic hockey-playing Badgers, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Suter and Joe Pavelski.
The event also drew some of history’s best, and here are three of Team USA’s legends, Mike Modano, Chris Chelios and Brett Hull, with Wayne Gretzky.
The Shot Diva, Michelle Carter, who won shot put gold in Rio, took another kind of shot this past Saturday in New York City. Carter had been invited as a speaker at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to the event, “for a daylong exploration of radical creativity.” Indeed. The session included professors, choreographer, architects, artists, directors and musicians.
Ultimately inspiring, the messages were upbeat and positive as Ryan Hhall charged toward the finish line of a remarkable feat: running seven marathons in seven days, while hop-scotching around the world. But it didn’t come easy for Hall. He suffered. His legs were shot. He had to walk (he also completed at least three of them in under 3:00:00).
All tallied up, the long and winding roads can be summed up with:
Twenty-three. This past weekend in Australia, tennis legend and Olympic champion Serena Williams won her record 23rd Grand Slam tournament, this one over her older sister and fellow Olympic champion, Venus. As these moments become more rare, they are to be savored.
Days later, still basking in the glow …
Even Kobe agrees …
Olympic snowboarding stars Hannah Teter and Louie Vito have found a snow bank in California that has a decent vertical drop of its own.
Insane amount of snow in Cali! ❄️ pic.twitter.com/YhvMeegP36— hannah teter (@hannahteter) January 31, 2017
We Are The Worlds
For Paralympic medalist alpine skier Danelle Umstead, even her work trips have an element of family. Her guide is her husband, Rob, and they just happen to love Tarvisio, Italy, host of the at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships.
Umstead wasn’t alone in her podium finishes, either. Alaskan Andrew Kurka hit for the cycle with a gold, a silver and a bronze.
Three podiums for Staci Mannella and guide Sadie DeBaun, too.
Can’t Win ‘Em All
Sure, he’s a Olympic medalist diver, but he’s also human — which makes him subject to both the laws of gravity and the occasional gaffe.
Person: "How's 2017 been treating you?"— Steele Johnson (@Steele_Johnson) February 1, 2017
Me: "Yeah, not too bad."
Also Me: pic.twitter.com/oJw73zgPKX
Words To Live By
Defending Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen may only be a few weeks into pregnant life, but she’s already available for movie advice (for context, IMDb’s Mr. Church review begins thusly: "Mr. Church" tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook) when you’d like to avoid bawling in public.
Pro tip: Don't watch Mr Church on a plane while pregnant 😭😢😭— gwen jorgensen (@gwenjorgensen) January 29, 2017
With the Super Bowl in Houston, it’s no wonder Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles made an impact on the proceedings.