By Jamie MacDonald | Jan. 05, 2018, 9:20 p.m. (ET)

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."

 

Flying High Again

With all respect to the holiday season, this is a most wonderful time of the year. As we creep closer to a month inside of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Team USA’s elite athletes are qualifying for the Games at a more rapid rate. Congratulations are in order across so many sports, as every athlete's story takes on that much more significance with South Korea on his or her horizon.

For ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, that meant qualifying to the sounds of cowbells and cheering from the mountainside during last weekend’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Hendrickson had always shown great promise, but her continued success had been beset by knee injuries before and after the 2014 Sochi Games. So, there’s this, one of the best feelings in the world ...

 

 

 

There will, however, be very little rest for Hendrickson.


Hockey Teams, Too

To kick off the new year and on the occasion of the NHL’s always-popular Winter Classic, USA Hockey announced the names for all three of the teams that will represent the United States in PyeongChang — men, women and Paralympic. But perhaps the most compelling of all the videos shot this past week for athletes headed to the Games came out of Milwaukee. That’s where the Milwaukee Admirals shot a clip of 30-year-old Bobby Butler, who played 130 games in the NHL, telling his dad he would be going to the Olympic Games. What goes into the video is at once 32 seconds and yet a lifetime, and it’s priceless. So far, the video has earned the Admirals more than 800,000 views, and it has been picked up by countless media outlets. No doubt that when play begins, the hug heard ‘round Team USA will be seen again.

Team USA’s women will also be represented, once again, by a set of twins, and their heartfelt appreciation for each other can always be felt through their social posts.

And if you don’t yet follow Paralympic standout Josh Pauls on Twitter, now is a good time to start …


The Downside Of Olympic Dreams

For every wonderful story about qualifying, there are dozens more about Olympic hopefuls who, occasionally because of injury, won’t realize the dreams that have fueled them for so many days and weeks and years leading into the Games. Such is the case this year with Olympic alpine skier Travis Ganong, who was injured this past week during competition. His words tell the hard tale …

 

As you may have seen, I crashed in the downhill race in Bormio a few days ago, and tweaked my right knee.  After flying home and getting an MRI, it is confirmed that I have torn my ACL which unfortunately means my season is over. Bormio is a bittersweet place for me now as it is where I scored my first World Cup Points, had my first top 10, and where I won my first World Cup DH (in nearby Santa Caterina). However, now it is also the place where I had my first crash after 115 World Cup starts, and the first time that I have hit the B-net, in both training and racing! Having an injury is tough, and I am especially disappointed that this happened 5 weeks before the Olympics in South Korea where I was hoping to represent my country for the second time and fight for medals.  Now my next 6 months will obviously be very different to those of a World Cup skier, but I am excited for this new challenge and I am looking forward to re-setting, re-motivating, and working harder than ever to come back even stronger than I am now.  I still have many goals and much that I want to accomplish as a professional skier, and I can’t wait to get back into the starting gate again next season.  I will also have a great rehab partner with @mmgagnon rehabbing by my side! I want to thank all of my sponsors, fans, coaches, teammates and everyone at U.S. Ski & Snowboard, my friends and my family for their continued support and I want to let you all know that it is an honor being a part of the snow sports community! I will be cheering for the whole team in South Korea and I am excited to see so many talented athletes achieve their goals at the Games. I am planning on having surgery late this week after the swelling has gone down and I have my range of motion back.  After that I will start the rehab process here in Lake Tahoe, and also re-start working on my Ski Resort Management and Business degree from @sierranevadacollege .  I am also looking forward to having some time to work on and launch a new coffee company @pacificcrestcoffee (more to come)! So here is to a new year filled with new challenges!  The road back is not always easy, but I am embracing it and will be ready...

A post shared by Travis Ganong (@travisganong) on


Look Out, 2018

New Year’s Eve is a time not only of reflection, but also for looking at the next year like it’s another 365 days of conquering everything from competition and training to injury and setbacks. As the calendar pages turned, Team USA timelines shouted out messages of optimism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To start the New Year I am choosing to bear my scars of 2017. For me 2017 will always hold a special place in my heart as it brought my first year married to my best friend and was filled with a deeper level of love then I ever knew possible. Although 2017 was also one of the most difficult years yet. It is the first full year I have been out of the sport of swimming since I started when I was 7 years old. This past year I fought a body that felt like in so many ways was betraying me, I fought through an injury that has taken so much of me and I added two new battle wounds. Admittedly these scars are ones that I have been fairly self conscious and as my bandage came off a few days ago following my latest surgery I looked into the mirror and my eyes welled up with tears. However today, as I turn a new leaf to 2018 I am choosing to bear my scars as a reminder of what I survived. I will come to love these new marks on my body as they tell a story of what I have lived through and just like past adversities I will continue to work each day to not allow them to define me but to appreciate the journey they have taken me on. Sometimes closing out a year isn’t always easy, sometimes it breaks open wounds and forces us to acknowledge the scars we carry, but it is important regardless of how challenging the journey to find a way to appreciate the person it has built you into and always allow it to challenge you to keep moving forward. As I head into 2018 here is to not allowing these scars to define what this year will bring, here is to learning to love them for they are symbols of survival and here is to fighting for every inch and being willing to start at the bottom so I can rise to the top in 2020! May the challenges of 2017 motivate us all to fight for better in 2018, may our scars remind us that we are survivors and may we always find a way to appreciate the journey! Happy New Years to you and yours! ❀️#NoFilter #NoMakeUp #Vulnerability #NewYear #OperationComeback #RedefineLimitations

A post shared by MalloryWeggemann (@malloryweggemann) on

 

 

 

 


Parade, Root

Some New Year’s Days also came with a signifiant honor: roses. Lots and lots of roses. Congratulations to two-time Olympic bobsled medalist Elana Meyers Taylor.


Zoom With A View

We checked in with two-time Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer earlier in this edition for his polar plunge at Southern Germany’s Berchtesgaden National Park, and, not too far away, here’s his icy Koenigssee, Germany,f office …


Serena’s Top 10

Among Team USA’s most fun stories this year was Olympic champion Serena Williams winning a Grand Slam title while pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian (who, in addition to the Grand Slam also has 194,000 Instagram followers). Serena, with her own 7.2 million followers on Instagram, picked up nearly 500,000 likes with her so-sweet 10-video tribute to Alexis.


Car. Tunes.

While the U.S. Figure Skating Championships are well underway, some of this country’s very best skaters teamed up for a little fun on their Road to PyeongChang with this carpool karaoke rendition of "Let It Go" from the Frozen soundtrack, and it’s well worth the full 3:48 run time.


Feats Of Strength

We’d caution against trying this at home if we thought there were any threat of someone believing they could, as Team USA gymnast Steven Legendre does, complete a set of handstand push-ups … with pauses at the bottom, middle and top of the push-up. Crazy strength.

 

Check out this advanced handstand push-up variation I did in a circuit this morning. I have always loved handstands and handstand push-ups, but sometimes it is fun to challenge yourself with something new. This variation includes 3 second pauses at the top, midway, and bottom of each handstand push-ups. Critical elements when doing this are body position, tightness, and control. People tend to loose their tightness in their core, leading to arching and an "open chest" which is important to avoid. Comment or message me if you want me to post some exercises and drills you can work to build to this handstand push-ups variation! #gymfit #gymnasticbodies #handstand #handstandpushup #mindbodysoul #ilovehandstands @gymnasticbodies @powermonkeyfitness @simplyshredded @menwithhealth @getbsf

A post shared by Steven Legendre (@steve_legendre) on


Wedding Bells

Congratulations are in order for the first couple of BMX racing, Australian Olympic silver medalist Sam Willoughby and Team USA’s Alise Post, who won her own silver medal at the Rio Games. Because Willoughby sustained significant spinal damage in a training injury in September 2016, some of this seemed impossible not all that long ago …

 

 

 


Cheryl, Cheryl …

When opposing fans thought they might get under his skin, 1996 Olympian Reggie Miller would hear chants of Cheryl! Cheryl!, in reference to his big sister and one of the most accomplished players in history, Cheryl Miller. Now 54, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and Basketball Hall of Famer gets more than a little love from her younger brother and Pacers legend.


Gripping Cold

If you’re in the United States, there’s about a 90 percent chance you’re unseasonably — or even historically — cold right now. A few of our favorite posts/rants about the deep freeze popping up in social timelines this past week …

 

She’s gonna hate our move back to Fla in 6 months...

A post shared by Dara Torres (@swimdara) on

 

 

 

I'm in utter shock. This just does not happen in Florida!

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

 

 

 

 

OK, not everyone was in the deep freeze, and they didn’t mind sharing their weather thoughts, either …

 


Not Your Average Trip

And if you’re looking for some decent weather, look no farther than three-time Olympic swimming medalist Conor Dwyer, who is soaking in some seriously picturesque swims …