Whether you love the day devoted to love, or love to hate it, Valentine’s Day is usually a day full of memories. In honor of the holiday that revolves around cupid and chocolate, we asked eight Team USA athletes to reminisce about their most memorable Feb. 14.
Ashton Eaton, Track and Field
“For [my wife and Canadian heptathlon bronze medalist] Brianne and I, our first date ever was on Valentine's Day. I was taking her out to dinner. We were both in college but I didn't have a car and she did so she was going to drive us when I called her to come pick me up. She had a purple VW bug. Well I didn't end up calling her until about 8 p.m., and we both had class the next day. So I was pushing it and I knew it. The problem was, I was trying to make her a mixed CD (back when those were still cool) of slow jams and romantic songs, but it was taking forever for them to "download" from the internet! When it finally did, I called her and we went to dinner. We ordered food about 9 p.m., which was uncomfortably late. We went to Olive Garden. Later, Brianne told me that she was wondering if I was going to stand her up.”
John Daly, Skeleton
“My best Valentine's Day was 1992. I was 6 years old and Kim Q. gave me the "You're Cute" heart candy. I had a crush on her for the rest of first grade. Too bad I peaked in '92.”
Amy (Cozad) Magaña, Diving
“Valentine's Day 2017 will be my husband and I’s first as a married couple and we will celebrate by cuddling with our ‘puppers’ with the fire going in the fireplace and a good movie.”
Paige McPherson, Taekwondo
“The best Valentine’s would be when my boyfriend, Vincent, from Paris surprised me with an unannounced visit. I remember getting off of work and there he was at the door smiling at me. He then took me to a fancy restaurant and showered me with chocolates and flowers. It was the best feeling in the world that my man would travel across the ocean to see me for Valentine's Day, especially when he thinks it's a silly holiday.”
Tony Azevedo, Water Polo
“Sixteen years ago [on Valentines Day], I asked my wife if she wanted to go to dinner at this little Cuban restaurant near Stanford. She accepted, but only if she could bring a friend. We had an amazing dinner and are now married with two kids!”
Elana Meyers Taylor, Bobsled
“Valentine's Day 2015 was my husband and I's first Valentine's Day as a married couple and unfortunately, we would be spending it apart. So, wanting to surprise me, he did his research and found a Russian company to deliver flowers and chocolates to me. Valentine's Day came and went, and nothing arrived. I tried to call the company but unfortunately there was never any answer. Turns out, it was a scam and I had to spend the day after Valentine's Day on the phone with my credit card company disputing the claim! My husband made it up to me though — when he came to Europe for my world championships — he gave me all the kisses (Hershey kisses, yes, symbolic) I could eat! Now we try to spend every Valentine’s Day together so we never have to deal with fake Russian flower companies.”
Ashley Wagner, Figure Skating
“I met Eddy (Alvarez, Olympic short track speedskating silver medalist) in Sochi back when he was a speedskater. I remember he asked me if I would be his Valentine since the Games fell right on Valentine's Day (cue all the aww's). I had left Russia for Austria after the figure skating team event to train before my own individual event, so I agreed, thinking he wouldn't really do anything. It's the thought that counts! It is also next to impossible to bring anything into the village so I expected nothing. When I came back from Austria he had made me a rose bouquet out of duct tape and that's when I knew he might stick around for a while.”
Nathan Crumpton, Skeleton
“One Valentine’s, I was single and a little lonely. Despite my general loneliness at the time, I’ve always enjoyed working out alone, as it allows me to progress through a workout at my own pace. As I went through my routine of warming up and completing the sprinting and plyometric portions of the training session, I thought I had beaten the morning rush and would be able to get through another workout undisturbed.
But cupid’s arrow had a different plan for me.
After leaving the gymnasium, I shuffled over to the weight room to complete the final portion of my workout. And as soon as I opened the door, the beauty that radiated from across the distance blinded me.
Love struck, I was frozen in place and could do nothing but stare with my mouth slightly agape.
She had a tall, statuesque frame, but without any sense of fragility. As one might expect to find in an Olympic Training Center, her figure brimmed with elegant strength. And as the light cascaded around her like a celestial halo, I thought to myself: That is the most beautiful squat rack I’ve ever seen!”