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 and having children. They're taking hard-earned vacations. Or retiring. Or 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."
When it comes to social media posts — not to mention her life both on the ski hill and away from competition — it would be hard to beat Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin this week. Yes, there were the wildly successful finishes that further cemented her standing as the best slalom skier in the world, thanks to two wins and her fourth world cup slalom season title. Oh, and in her home country, no less (more on that scene courtesy of a teammate in a bit). But there was also this outstanding video tribute, pegged against the excuse of her own 22nd birthday, to Taylor Swift’s "22."
Dear Taylor Swift, Thank you for writing such a catchy song which is so aptly named 22. Please don't be mad that I used this song for my video, it really was the only option. I have been waiting patiently dreaming about this moment for 2 years since you released this song. And today is the day that dream comes true. Because today, I am 22, and I can now share my unrestrained craziness with the world. Thank you. And you're welcome. (All the credit in the world to @taylorswift) 🎉🎊🎉🎊🎉🎊🎉🎊 #part1
Dear Taylor Swift, Thank you for writing such a catchy song which is so aptly named 22. Please don't be mad that I used this song for my video, it really was the only option. I have been waiting patiently dreaming about this moment for 2 years since you released this song. And today is the day that dream comes true. Because today, I am 22, and I can now share my unrestrained craziness with the world. Thank you. And you're welcome. (All the credit in the world to @taylorswift) 🎉🎊🎉🎊🎉🎊🎉🎊 #part2
More than 100,000 views later — for someone with a bit fewer than 305,000 followers — and you have a viral hit.
For good measure, Shiffrin, also went ahead and made a terrifically grateful and classy post coming out of her two-win stop at Squaw Valley, California.
❤️ Squaw Valley ❤️ all the volunteers that put so much effort into preparing the slope and putting on the World Cups ❤️ the 20,000 people who came to cheer the past two days, I wish I was able to spend more time saying hi to all of you ❤️ singing our national anthem so many times in two days ❤️ being alive ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ See you in Aspen. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (I stole this photo from @jennvirskus 🙈) #givesyouwings #weareskiing #sheskis #eleganceisanattitude @barillaus @atomicski @redbull @longines @oakleyskiing @reusch_brand @leki.ski.outdoor
On an entirely different and artistic note, Shiffrin, within a week of possibly wrapping up her first overall world cup title, posted this dreamy pic and message heading into the Squaw event.
To take in Shiffrin’s home-country win, four-time Olympian Daron Rahlves had some pretty good seats. And as dramatic as the win was, the payoff in this video may come from the thousands in attendance.
Rahlves’ 9-year-old can fly. He’s getting there, anyway, “… testing his ability more and more these days,” says the elder Rahlves, who posted a video of his son taking flight. In slo-mo, no less.
For so many of us, life is what gets in the way of things like working out. For elite athletes such as Olympic 400-meter hurdles bronze medalist Ashley Spencer, however, not even the mundane can interrupt the thoughts of the next workout.
"girl, hold on . I gotta write these workouts" pic.twitter.com/ikoBvwbUPX— Ashley Spencer (@theTrackQueen) March 14, 2017
It’s almost spring, right? Less than a week after temps neared 70 in the Northeast, the mercury plunged back into winter as St. Patrick’s Day neared. Unfortunately, that timing didn’t work out so well for 2012 Olympic champion and two-time Olympic pole vaulter Jenn Suhr in her native New York.
🍀 -5 windchill for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. These Irish folk are tough!!!! pic.twitter.com/QqhySSPtp4— Jenn Suhr (@JennSuhr) March 11, 2017
Seems, though, that the weather didn’t dampen any spirits in Rochester, New York.
🇺🇸❤💙USA 🍀USA❤️💙🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/a5QlAia00U— Jenn Suhr (@JennSuhr) March 11, 2017
It’s An LA Thing
#FightOn? Sure. But that doesn’t mean Olympic swimming champion and legend Janet Evans is above rooting for excellence — even if that means excellence is wearing blue and gold in Westwood, California. Besides, when the story is about a college gymnastics program roster that includes Olympians Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian, both of whom have earned a perfect 10 this season, and a top-five program in the country, there’s ample room for appreciation.
Catching Up With: Shawn Johnson East
If you follow Shawn Johnson East on social media, you know she and her husband, Andrew East, have more than their share of fun. This past week, they took that zest for life to new heights. Quite literally. The pair very likely becomes the first zero-gravity husband-and-wife tandem that can boast playing in the NFL and winning an Olympic gold medal.
We survived! Truly an experience of a lifetime! Zero-G Jet... it's been real. Want to see us on board flipping thro… pic.twitter.com/FDrGpaLgju— Shawn Johnson East (@ShawnJohnson) March 11, 2017
This has been quite the week for SJ, too. In addition to going weightless, she took in a UCLA gymnastics meet with longtime friend and fellow Olympic gymnastics champion Nastia Liukin …
… and capped the night off with a double date rounded out by Liukin’s fiancé, former Boston College ice hockey player Matt Lombardi …
Then East, a long snapper who played college football at Vanderbilt, signed a contract with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams …
One can comfortably wonder whether this was a hard sell for Carlo Valdes, who has combined to podium multiple times this season with bobsled star and three-time Olympian Steven Holcomb.
Did You Know?
Speaking of Holcomb, here are two more reasons to look forward to a return to PyeongChang …
South Korea, where the grapes are as big as meatballs pic.twitter.com/pTdbwCDfye— Steven Holcomb (@StevenHolcomb) March 11, 2017
That time we went to the fish market and some random Korean woman insisted I have a taste. Whatever it was, It was quite delicious. pic.twitter.com/AI5VM7wfPo— Steven Holcomb (@StevenHolcomb) March 17, 2017
March 14 — or, for the math nerd in so many, 3.14 — offers a celebration of pi. And pie.
Touche, U.S. Soccer …
After “Killin' it in Copenhagen” with Jessica Long at a World Para Swimming World Series, Rio Paralympic breakout swimming star Becca Meyers went on to have a little fun in Iceland.
Even in Iceland you can't keep me away from a pool! This one was very different because it is outdoors and is geothermally heated. They put very few chemicals in the water so you must shower before entering. It was pretty cool to swim outside when it's 20 degrees ☃️❄️Unfortunately, photos are prohibited 😒 #icelandrocksliterally #outdoorswimming #nevertoocold
Lately, Olympic biathlete Susan Dunklee has been on a roll. Last month in Austria, she made history by winning Team USA’s first women’s individual medal at a world championships with a sliver in the 12.5-kilometer mass start. This month in Finland, Dunklee finished fifth in an individual event and, along with fellow Olympian Lowell Bailey in a single mixed relay event, won Team USA’s first team medal in nearly a quarter of a century. What’s her secret?
Most of the deep powder pics we see this time of year on Team USA social media timelines comes from out west. Like this …
Or this …
… So it’s nice for the East Coast, at long last, to represent after a storm dumped a few feet of March snow across parts of the Northeast. These, brought to you by #Stella. And Olympic luger Tucker West:
When it comes to nerd cred, two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Cody Miller kept up the good work this past week with the reveal of a five-panel Harry Potter tribute.
My HOGWARTS Castle 5-Piece canvas has arrived🎁!! It's Awesome!! pic.twitter.com/OOEqAFxgfn— Cody Miller (@swimiller) March 13, 2017
Miller also kept up with his wedding prep, too …
Taste testing popcorn for the wedding🍿🍿🍿!!! We will have SO MUCH POPCORN🤘🏼🎉 pic.twitter.com/wMMjNDjfMo— Cody Miller (@swimiller) March 12, 2017
Looking to freshen up your workout, goaltenders? Have a coach fire tennis balls at you from close range. It seems to be working for U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team keeper Ashlyn Harris.
Dream Big, Indeed
Congratulations are in order for 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden, this month’s cover athlete on Women’s Running magazine.
The wheelchair racing star also made a bit of history in the process …
Congratulations are also in order for Sydney Leroux Dwyer’s family. The Olympic soccer champion’s husband, Dom Dwyer, who was born in the UK and now plays Sporting KC in MLS, officially became a United States citizen.
Olympic silver medalist decathlete Trey Hardee readied for the outdoor season thusly …