It's true that 2019 fell between two Olympic Games — the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — but it was a busy year nonetheless.
This was a year where Team USA athletes were either busy competing in the hopes of landing a spot on the Tokyo team, or taking a much-deserved break after the end of an Olympic cycle. It explains why this year saw a lot of exciting competition news, as well as romance and baby news.
To see the full list of what readers wanted to know more about, check out the 19 most-read TeamUSA.org stories of the year.
There is no denying Cohen has a lot of titles: Olympic figure skating medalist, Columbia grad, amateur chef among them, but when she announced she was adding one more to the list — mom to-be — readers wanted to know more. The 2006 Olympic silver medalist announced on Instagram that she was “excited to welcome a little one into the world!” with fiancé Geoffrey Lieberthal, who works in private equity. One month earlier the two were engaged while enjoying a trip to Paris.
After competing at two Olympics you would think nerves were not a problem for BMXer Cain. But in this revealing story, she shared that she had anxiety, but it wasn’t because of the competition; but rather out of fear that someone would discover that she was gay. She came out on Instagram in September of last year and told the tale of what it has been like competing as her true self in the build-up to the 2020 Games.
With Tokyo 2020 being highly anticipated Games, it is no wonder that a story about the soon-to-be released tickets was so widely read. Readers got tips on the importance of planning ahead and registering early for the latest news and information on presales. The tickets have been highly sought-after and Team USA fans wanted to know how to secure their spot in the cheering section in Japan.
Days after being inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame in Everett, Washington, the two-time Olympic discus thrower was found unresponsive. He had gone out with friends the night before and reportedly wasn’t feeling well. Hours later he passed away. At one time Rome, 42, was the nation’s No. 1-ranked thrower and had most recently been working as a track and field assistant coach for throws at Boston University.
One year after the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we took a look to see how Team USA athletes were keeping themselves busy after leaving South Korea. And being the elite athletes that they are, their free time consisted of running in marathons, competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” and gracing the pages of the Maxim Hot 100 list. What else would you expect from athletes like Mikaela Shiffrin, Adam Rippon and Chloe Kim?
After six years wrestling at Ohio State University, the youngest U.S. wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal made the decision to move his training — and life — to Penn State. The 2016 Olympian said the choice was not an easy one, but in the lead-up to Tokyo, he had a responsibility “to my teammates, to my country, and to God … to get better,” and ultimately defend his Olympic title. After his first month, the 24-year-old said that the “training has been good.”
When the 2010 men’s figure skating Olympic gold medalist announced his engagement on social media in April, readers were curious to know more about the woman who captured the two-time Olympian’s heart. And when the 33-year-old married his fiancé, Duangpatra Bodiratnangkura — a real estate developer — eight months later, the follow-up story about their Thailand wedding also drew a lot of attention. The two, who met in 2011, married in Bangkok at a Heritage Home, which is part of her family’s estate. Canada’s two-time Olympic ice dance champion Tessa Virtue was one of the guests in attendance.
Twenty-three years after that groundbreaking first Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer, we took a look back at 13 of the women responsible for that victory at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996. Some of the women who helped Team USA claim a 2-1 gold-medal win over China are still working in sports. Julie Foudy works as a soccer analyst for ESPN, while Mia Hamm keeps busy with her foundation. Soccer fans were anxious to see what the rest of the team had been up to since leaving the pitch.
It has not been an easy road to motherhood for the former gymnast, and she hasn’t been afraid to share her trials and tribulations along the way. Two years after vlogging about her painful miscarriage in an emotional 20-minute YouTube video, Johnson and her husband, former NFL player Andrew East, welcomed a baby girl on Oct. 29. The 27-year-old Olympic champion revealed they named her Drew Hazel East and the godmother was none other than her 2008 teammate, Nastia Liukin.
Everyone loves a comeback story, and the 2016 Olympian said she is hoping to be the subject of that story. After winning a gold and silver medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Hernandez took a two-year break, but revealed her plans to land a spot on the team headed to Tokyo next summer. “I do think it’s realistic to come back next year and do well,” she said.
Softball fans have been excited ever since it was announced that the sport was going to join the program for Tokyo 2020; and Team USA’s win against rival Japan at the USA Softball International Cup was another big reason to celebrate the sport. The championship game played in Columbus, Georgia, at the site of the 1996 Olympic tournament — was a close one. The two teams have been long-standing rivals and are expected to be favorites at next summer’s Games.
Figure skating is always a popular topic, and when the subject is about 13-year-old newcomer Alysa Liu becoming the youngest-ever U.S. champion, readers wanted to read how she accomplished that impressive feat. Liu finished the free skate in first place with a total of 217.51 points, well deserved after her display of eight triples, including an unprecedented two axels in one skate by an American woman. The previous skater to hold the title of youngest champ was Tara Lipinski, who was in attendance and in awe of the “little firecracker.”
Turning 40 is a scary prospect for some people, but the three-time Paralympic snowboarding medalist was too busy fighting for her life to worry about turning another year older. At the beginning of this year, Purdy suffered a massive blood clot in her left leg causing a number of problems that forced her to stop competing for the time being, though not forever. “Right now I have to take baby steps,” she admitted in the article, but said she hopes to compete in another Paralympic Games.
Readers love to see stories about romance, and were excited by the news that teammates Harris and Krieger were taking their relationship from “teammates” to “happily engaged”. The couple — who met 10 years earlier while playing for the U.S. national team — had kept their relationship private for years, as they didn’t want it to distract from what they were hoping to accomplish on the field. But when they announced their engagement on Instagram, there was no hiding the gigantic rock — or happy smiles. Harris, the 33-year-old goalkeeper proposed to Krieger, the 33-year-old defender, on a beach in Clearwater, Florida. They were married in a ceremony filled with their teammates Dec. 28 in Miami.
Elite athletes have to be tuned in to their bodies, so when the five-time Olympic gold medal swimmer said some part of him “didn’t seem quite right,” he scheduled a doctor’s appointment. Turned out the 30-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Thankfully, he said, “we caught it early, I have started treatment and the prognosis is good.” He hopes with this new platform he is able to raise awareness of men’s health issues. He also has his sights set on Tokyo 2020.
When the 19-year-old Carey did what the greatest gymnast of all time, Simone Biles did only nine days earlier — a triple-twisting double backflip (aka the triple-double) — on floor exercise, readers were shocked. While Biles pulled off the impressive move in front of judges on the final night of the national championships, Carey showed the world her moves in a training video posted to Instagram and everyone wanted to see for themselves. And when Skinner (pictured) followed it up with a video of her perfecting the move, both stories were among the 10 most read articles. Since no woman had performed that skill in competition until August, readers couldn’t get enough.
The news that softball was being added back to the Olympic program after a 12-year hiatus had fans excited. So it was no wonder that a story about the women named to that team would earn a top spot on this list. Readers wanted to know everything about the 15 women, along with the alternates, who made the cut. The women ranged from a 36-year-old soon-to-be-three-time Olympian with two medals to three players who are current student-athletes. The head coach was also named as Ken Eriksen, who has served as head coach of the women’s national team since 2011.
The second most read story on TeamUSA.org was a sad one with the news that 23-year-old Olympic cyclist Catlin from Minnesota had passed away. Her father confirmed the news, telling cycling magazine VeloNews that his daughter had taken her own life. The news came only days after the UCI Track World Championships, where Catlin did not compete in the team pursuit event in which she had won three gold medals in a row. She was also a member of the team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 that took home the silver medal. USA Cycling has since created the Kelly Catlin Fund in honor of the three-time world champion.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the most read stories on TeamUSA.org this year were about the impressive, and slightly superhero-esque Biles. This year saw the 22-year-old superstar making history once again with some new — and jaw-dropping — skills. The two skills — one of which had never been done in a competition before, the other had never been landed — were the triple-double and the double-double, which she nailed at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. The skills have since been named the Biles II and the Biles, after she landed them at world championships. Fitting for the number one gymnast in the world, who took the number one spot on our list.