Photograph by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
The U.S. Women’s National Team’s Maya Moore dunks against Angola during a preliminary round of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The U.S. Women’s National Team’s Maya Moore dunks against Angola during a preliminary round of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The Minnesota Lynx forward would go on to lead Team USA to its fifth straight basketball gold.
Every four years is happens: For a singular moment all athletes are equal. At the Olympics and Paralympics, the value of LeBron James is intrinsically level with that of the Lynx's Maya Moore, or BMX racer Alise Post, or wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki. No matter their sport, or gender, or background, the gold they seek weighs the same. Here are the stories of ten local athletes vying for gold this summer in Rio.
For most Olympians, this summer is about one thing: Rio. But for Maya Moore and three of her Minnesota Lynx teammates, Olympic gold is just a mid-season pit stop en route to defending their WNBA title. Another notable mid-season pit stop? The White House on June 27, where they celebrated last year’s title with President Barack Obama .
“I think it’s fair to say this team is a powerhouse,” Obama said, grinning at the champions standing behind him. “You’ve got Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, and Seimone Augustus, all recently named among the top 20 players in WNBA history.”
Truly, the Lynx are on top of the world. Three championships in five years, four Olympians, a strong start to their 2016 campaign, and all in the 20th anniversary of both the WNBA and the women’s national team. And yet, just three days earlier when the then-still-undefeated Lynx met the second-place Los Angeles Sparks—a game the Lynx ultimately lost 94-76—the Target Center crowd was just a tick more than 13,000. While that’s a few thousand more than their league-leading average attendance of about 9,000, it still puts the Lynx fifth among the five local professional sports teams.
Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Barack Obama hosted the Minnesota Lynx at the White House in June
President Barack Obama hosted the Minnesota Lynx at the White House in June
“We’re at the peak of our careers, playing against the best players in the world, in the best league in the world, and yet we have this invisibility,” says Moore, describing the problem she began articulating in an article she wrote last year for The Players’ Tribune. In the article, Moore, who was the first female signed to Nike’s Jordan brand, articulated the facts: WNBA’s basketball is the best women’s basketball league in the world, and yet for the players in it, the fame, accolades, and attention peaked when they were in college.
With lack of visibility comes, among other things, lack of compensation. WNBA players make a sliver of what their NBA counterparts make, so when their season ends, most head straight to Europe or Asia for a second season that typically pays better than their main one. “I hope that eventually going overseas can be a choice,” Moore says. “But right now if you want to make the most out of your pro career financially, you kinda have to go. The more people buy in on the WNBA and sponsorships increase and visibility increases, there’s definitely a real chance of it being something to think about.”
This year more than any other, visibility’s tides are turning. Moore’s call to action coupled with the 20th anniversaries seem to have signaled the dawn of a new era. ESPN The Magazine, whose May 23 issue celebrated the WNBA front to back, featured a quadruple gatefold cover of the top players in league history making a collective drive to the hoop, culminating with Maya Moore, all alone, floating across the front. Moore says it “captured the beauty of the players playing and also the history, while also capturing the forward motion of where we’re going.”
And where they’re going most immediately is the Olympics, where the U.S. women’s team has only ever won gold. “The Olympics are perfect timing,” Moore says. “You know, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of that ’96 team that started the streak that we’re on. There’s just a lot to celebrate. A lot to enjoy. A lot to appreciate.”
President Obama seems to agree. “This is a good moment to celebrate all that these players and the many who’ve come before have accomplished,” he said. “Twenty years ago, Maya, Seimone, and Lindsay were playing H-O-R-S-E in their driveways and suddenly they saw players like Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes and Sue Bird to look up to as role models, and there’s no discounting how important that is.”
There’s no discounting how important another gold in Rio, followed by their fourth WNBA Championship, could be either.
The Dream Team
The four Minnesota Lynx players on Team USA reflect on going for Olympic gold in the middle of defending their championship and, among other things, whether it’s cool to keep wearing their medal jacket once the Olympics are over.
College: University of Connecticut
Career: 2012 Olympic Team; 2014 WNBA Most Valuable Player; three-time WNBA All-Star; two-time All-WNBA; 2013 Finals MVP
College: Louisiana State University
Career: 2008, 2012 Olympic Team; WNBA Rookie of the Year 2006; All-WNBA; six-time WNBA All-Star
College: Louisiana State University
Career: 2008, 2012 Olympic Team; WNBA Defensive Player of the Year; two-time WNBA All-Star
College: University of Minnesota
Career: 2012 Olympic Team; 2010 FIBA World Championship, gold; two-time All-WNBA
Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen photographs by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images; Seimone Augustus photography by Xinhua/Alamy Live News.
Photograph by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Lindsay Whalen and teammates celebrated their game-five win against the Indiana Fever in the 2015 WNBA Championships
Lindsay Whalen and teammates celebrated their game-five win against the Indiana Fever in the 2015 WNBA Championships.
There are four Lynx players going to Rio, and all the women’s team knows is gold. How cool is that?
Maya Moore: It’s a special time to be together here on the Lynx, to know that we’ve got so many talented players dedicated to competing at the highest level together.
Seimone Augustus: I only know gold. And that’s all I want to know! It says a lot about this team and it’s been a long time coming. In ’08 it was just me. So now that there’s four of us going out to represent this country as members of the Lynx, I think our fans are overjoyed.
Sylvia Fowles: Gold’s the point, right?
Lindsay Whalen: I think that we’re unselfish players who can really make plays. If you’re going to play with a lot of great players, you’ve gotta know when it’s your time to score and your time to distribute.
Most Olympians are singularly focused on Rio at this point, but you guys are still focused on winning WNBA games. Is that good or bad?
MM: It’s an advantage and a disadvantage. An advantage because we’re playing at the highest level in the world right now. But we’re not together on the same court practicing. We’re not preparing for the tendencies of other countries and other players. And [there’s] the grind of the travel within the WNBA season. We know these things—there are a lot of us who are used to it—but it doesn’t make it any easier to actually go about transitioning from an intense WNBA season to the world stage. We’re pretty used to quick turnarounds as women pros.
SA: It’s tough and it’s hard for us even to focus on the WNBA because we know that we have August coming up. But, so far so good on keying in on what we know we need to do here.
SF: Our last Lynx game is July 22, and then July 23 we meet up in L.A. with Team USA. So right then at that point in time, that’s when I start thinking about USA Basketball, but right now my sole focus is the Minnesota Lynx.
LW: We know that when that time comes we’ll be in great shape. We’ve been playing basketball all summer. We’re getting better. We’re working on our games. We’re working on our bodies. I know my skills are going to be at the top when the Olympics come. So that gives me comfort.
Moms get nervous. What’s your mom like watching you play?
MM: [My mom] definitely does get nervous. She’ll probably bring a little pompom or something. Any anxiety she’s got in the stands she’ll just pompom it out.
SA: She’s been better lately. Earlier on in my career she was one of those hyper moms— you know, yelling and all that. But now she’s gotten to a point where it’s like, that’s my daughter, I know what she can do and she’s confident in my abilities. But early on when we were losing and everything was kinda crazy, she was crazy too.
SF: Oh, Lord. My mom is very annoying, mainly because she doesn’t really know anything about basketball. Even like when we’re here and she’s in town, if we’re playing a team like Indiana she’ll root for those guys and I’ll be like, “Mom, you can’t root for those guys, we’re going against them.” And she’ll be like, “But I like [Indiana’s Tamika] Catchings.”
LW: I think my parents just want to see me have fun. You know, I think back to all the fun times we had as a family doing the AAU trips, the high school games, the road trips, and now it’s like, I’m in the pros and in the Olympics and it’s a much bigger stage, but at the end of the day it’s still basketball.
Your Team USA Olympic kit: retired post-Olympics or fair game for daily wearing?
MM: There are just rare times where it would be appropriate. But most of the time when we are going somewhere, we’re not necessarily trying to draw attention to ourselves. So I think if you wear something that says Team USA you stick out . . . A LOT.
SA: YEAH! We turned my mother’s dining room into a storage room for me. So I’ve got everything in there. And from time to time when I go home to Louisiana I’ll just kind of pull out some items. And it just so happened to get cold in Louisiana, which never happens, and I went through one of the bags and there was a letterman jacket in there! There was an actual USA basketball letter jacket in there and it had the patches of the Olympic games you participated in. Your record. Your name on the back. You get one of those?! I didn’t know it was in there because I hadn’t opened it up. So I put it on, with one of those bucket hats. I was like, “Oh my god, I’ve been missing out on all this good gear because I just kinda threw it in the corner!” [I wore it out in public] and it was kind of amazing, because everyone was like, “Where’d you get that jacket from?!” I was like, “Nah, this is the real deal.” People just assumed I’d gone down to like Niketown to get it and I was like, “It’s got my name right here!”
SF: Oh no. I don’t wear it anymore. We get a lot of nice stuff. The jackets we got in 2012 were pretty, pretty nice, but I never put it on. Like, I wore it for a photo shoot and then it’s back in my closet. I don’t want to breathe on it, I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want it to hit the outside air because it’s just that nice.
LW: Some of it you wear—the stuff that you’re comfortable in. Some of it’s just like at the house somewhere. Because it’s so much stuff, it’s kind of overwhelming how much stuff you get, it really is. On festive days like July 4 I’ll bust something out and represent.
What Summer Olympic sport would you fail worst at?
MM: Goodness. Thinking about all of the different sports. Maybe swimming?! It’s the one event where if I don’t make it, I’m going down.
SA: Track and field. I’ve always wanted to be a runner but never had the speed or ability to do it. So if I ever opened my eyes and I was in the 4x100, it would be a catastrophe.
SF: Probably soccer. I can’t kick a ball to save my life.
LW: Anything long-distance running I would be awful at. Marathon, two mile, one mile. [Actually] anything over like a 100-yard dash, I’d be out.
The U.S. women’s basketball team vs. Senegal is 10 am Aug. 7. The gold medal game starts at 1:30 pm Aug. 20. nbcolympics.com/basketball
Photograph by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
MN Lynx game
Our representation in Rio goes beyond the Lynx. From cyclist Kelly Catlin to wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki to wrestler Andy Bisek, hear from six more Minnesotans worth watching.
The Minneapolis guy who mastered the craziest sport on the planet tells us about using his wheelchair as a weapon, why his sport’s not called “Murderball” anymore, and the best thing about being on Team USA (hint, it’s the swag).
High School: Southwest High School
Current Residence: Minneapolis
Career: London 2012 Paralympic Team, bronze; named best 3.0 at the 2014 IWRF World Championships
What’s wheelchair rugby all about? It was originally called “Murderball,” and for most people that’s enough. It’s the only 100 percent full-contact wheelchair sport. It’s the only sport where guys can take runs at each other, knock guys over, flip guys over. You know, you’re trying to physically punish the opponent. We’re really kind of a hybrid of rugby, of hockey, of football, of basketball. We play on a basketball court. Every play starts off with an inbound, which is similar to basketball, and it’s very free-flowing. It’s all-out mania for an hour and a half.
Why did they change the name from Murderball? It’s kind of that cool, cult-sounding name. Like, oh yeah, MURDERBALL. When they were starting to become a sanctioned Paralympic sport, they said we should probably change [the name]. I actually started playing because in 2005 the documentary Murderball came out and my mom took me to it. It’s guys smashing into each other, guys trash-talking, guys partying—just this holy-cow lifestyle. And as we’re leaving the theater, my mom kinda looked at me and said, “You wanna play that, don’t you?” And I was like, “Heck yeah, I wanna play that!”
Your wheelchair is basically just a piece of equipment, right? Exactly. You know, that’s how I describe Paralympic sports. I use a wheelchair like baseball players use a bat and tennis players use a tennis racquet. Mine’s just a 42-pound aluminum wrecking machine.
What are you most looking forward to about Rio? The whole experience is going to be incredible. Getting our Team USA kit is fun, and doing the opening ceremonies. And even with all the stuff that’s going on in Brazil, I know in my heart it’s going to be a party. It’s going to be awesome. And ultimately I’m just looking forward to competing. I mean, we train for four years to play five games.
What’s your mom like when she’s watching you play? The first tournament she ever saw me play in was in Saginaw, Michigan. I was playing against a Paralympian who was going to the Beijing Olympics and he was huge. And he was just lighting me up all game long. Like I was literally flying into
the bleachers. And I didn’t hear this at the time, but I guess my mom stood up and was like, “If you ever cut my son like that again, I swear I’ll come down!” She was just livid.
Your Team USA Olympic kit: retired post-Olympics or fair game for daily wearing? Getting the kit is kind of incredible. They bring out two big backpacks full of clothes and we go through it and figure out what we’re going to wear each day as a team. And then they came out with two enormous roller bags that are stuffed to the brim. And you’re like, “What’s that?” And they’re like, “That’s the REST of it!” You’re like, “Wait, there’s already more clothes here than I own, and you bring out more?!” Oh man, it’s incredible. Ralph Lauren is so generous to give us all that stuff. You end up shipping a box back home.
So do you let yourself wear the gear or do you retire it? Oh, no. Oh, no, no. Honestly, it’s my closet. I don’t really shop anymore.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you during a game? When I first started playing I had cotton mouth and was just miserable, and the game started and I get hit and I was like, “Oh, god. Oh, god.” And I literally like puked in my lap. It wasn’t a huge retching thing, I just kinda puked and everyone was like, “Are you OK?” And I was like, yeah, but I’ve just gotta go for a minute, so I sprinted out of the gym, changed into new shorts, rinsed my mouth out, came back, and they were like, “Are you good now?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m good now.”
What Summer Paralympic sport would you fail worst at? Archery. Oh my God. I tried it one time and I couldn’t do it. I’m a strong guy, but I couldn’t do it. And I launched it and the arrow just kinda like fell. There’s this one guy who all he uses is his feet and his teeth and I’m like, “I have my arms and I can’t do this. This is ridiculous.”
Wheelchair rugby at the Paralympic Games runs Sept. 7–18. paralympic.org/rio-2016
The final rosters of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams were still in flux as this story went to press. Subsequent Minnesota qualifiers include David Plummer (swimming) and Kiana Eide (gymnastics), with more roster spots still on the table.
Chuck Aoki Photograph by Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
The Chaska-born father of two kids and one killer ’stache talks about making mom proud, the worst thing that’s ever happened to him on the mat (PUKE!), and why he’d make a lousy rhythmic gymnast.
High School: Chaska High School
Career: 2016–17 Team USA Ranking No. 1 at 75 kg/165 lbs; six years on Team USA; two-time World bronze medalist; 2015 Pan American Games champion; two-time U.S. Open champion
In the Greco-Roman wrestling world, your mustache is relatively famous. What does your mom think of it? Oh, I think she’s let go of it. She’ll say little things, I guess. Yeah. Like, “It’s kinda long? Doesn’t that get in your food?” And I’m like, whatever. I’ve had it for more than four years.
You have two kids, and both are younger than your mustache? Right.
So if your oldest is old enough to appreciate the magnitude of dad’s mustache, he’s also gotta be old enough to appreciate the magnitude of dad going to the Olympics, right? He just knows that I do wrestling. But I have some friends that are pro wrestlers so we watch that and then we watch the Greco-Roman wrestling I do, so he kinda has a hard time keeping them separate. He likes watching it. He has a singlet he wears.
During your matches does he wear a singlet and a fake mustache? Hahahaha. Just a singlet.
As you get closer to Rio, are you feeling the magnitude of the moment? I don’t know. I don’t think about it too much. You know, I’ve wrestled in four world championships and they all kind of have that high-intensity environment.
What are you most looking forward to about the Olympics? I’m looking forward to getting to compete and represent the USA. I compete on the 14th [of August], and my 30th birthday will be on the 18th. So I’m pretty excited about that. I know our coach has talked about after trying to take a trip into the Amazon jungle. It’s going to be a good time, we just need to get the work done first.
What’s your mom like during a match? She’ll be there, but she is not like most moms. She’s pretty relaxed. She’s always reminding me that I’ve done so many great things already and trying not to put any pressure on me. If it doesn’t work out she just kinda goes, “Oh, shoot. Well, where are we going to go eat lunch?!”
Most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to
you during a match? Not too much. Actually, I’ve like thrown up into my hand and tried to keep it all in once.
What?! That was like a long time ago. I was probably 12 or 11 and we’d get to the tournaments, weigh in, and then we’d go eat breakfast, and I would eat like two breakfast meals from Perkins and I’d have like an hour until the tournament started. So I was never, uh, really firing.
What Summer Olympic sport would you fail worst at? Rhythmic gymnastics. I mean, even if I was thrown into racing against Usain Bolt I know I at least know how to run. But I couldn’t do any kind of event at rhythmic gymnastics.
Really? It wouldn’t be another form of gymnastics? Haha. You obviously don’t know me.
Greco-Roman 75kg matches begin 8 am on Aug. 14. nbcolympics.com/wrestling
Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Andy Bisek throws his opponent during their championship match at the U.S. Olympic Team Wrestling Trials.
Andy Bisek throws his opponent during their championship match at the U.S. Olympic Team Wrestling Trials.
Dirt Track Dynamo
The St. Cloud BMXer dishes on everything from the pressure of super-short races to crashing into palm trees.
High School: St. Cloud Technical High School
Career: Four-time USA Cycling BMX National Champion; 2010 UCI BMX World Championships, bronze; 2012 Olympic Team
What’s being inside the Olympic fishbowl like? It’s this draining, massive stimulus overload. Everywhere you look you’re reminded of that pressure of what’s coming.
How much will you be competing in? My whole event total is a time-trial lap and four race laps, which is a tiny race, really. But it’s so hard. It’s the easiest hardest race. And since BMX has an element of chance, it’s a ton of pressure. Generally speaking one race lap is 35 to 36 seconds. Anything that’s less than 40 seconds and with no lanes, I think you’re a little bit crazy. But, haha, here we are.
Does your family get nervous when they watch you? They’re nervous wrecks because they’re not the ones out there doing it. My dad’s kind of silently stressed out, but he plays it off by telling dad jokes. And he’ll say the completely wrong thing at the wrong time. Like, “Oh, you must be nervous!” Thanks, Dad.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you racing? When I was a kid I ran into a palm tree. But the older you get it’s more just making some silly mistake. Like, this year at the World Cup, I led every race all day, and then on the very last jump in the final, I did something weird and unclipped and crashed and didn’t win. That was pretty embarrassing. But funny-wise, I think hitting a palm tree is pretty good.
Your Team USA Olympic kit: retired post-Olympics, or fair game for daily wearing? No. No. You’ve gotta wrap that up. It’s done. My uniform last time was all ripped to shreds from crashing anyways. Actually, you can wear some of it. I use a select handful of things that I really like, but a lot of it, yeah, no. I mean, I’m not going to wear the medal ceremony jacket around except for like when I was McKayla Maroney for Halloween.
What Summer Olympic sport would you be worst at? I’ve got two: water polo and flatwater canoeing. I got into one of those little canoes once-—and I have pretty good balance—but it was maybe three seconds until I flipped over, so if I got put in that situation I’d probably be drowning. Then, back to the water polo, whatever they do with their legs, I don’t know that I could do that with my legs to keep afloat. So again, drowning.
The women’s BMX seeding run is at 11:30 am on Aug. 17. The semifinals, finals, and medal ceremony are at 11:30 am on Aug. 19. nbcolympics.com/cycling
A Paralympian for All Seasons
The Park Rapids winter and summer Paralympian explains the intensity of being in the Paralympic fishbowl and his one athletic Achilles heel.
Paralympic Track & Field
Hometown: Park Rapids
Career: 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, 1st (1,500m, 5,000m), 3rd (800m); 2014 Paralympic Winter Games; 2013 Twin Cities Marathon, 2nd; Chicago Marathon, 7th; New York City Marathon, 8th; 2012 Paralympic Summer Games
You were in the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London, competing in the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, marathon, and 4x400m relays, and you competed in Nordic during the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic games. You’re sort of like a Paralympic Bo Jackson. They’re very different skills, but there’s some transfer in that they’re both endurance sports. So I had a strong base before I’d even got on skis. Up until 2012 I’d never even gotten on cross-country skis.
How will being inside the fishbowl of the Summer Paralympics be different the second time? The first one was a blur. So this time I’ll be able to take more in. It maybe won’t feel like such a huge event, although it really is. I mean, your nerves are pretty high when you’re in a stadium full of 80,000 people and you can’t even hear yourself think and you have the guys on the track directly in front of you trying to tell you what to do and you can’t even hear what they’re saying. So hopefully I’ll be able to relax a little bit more and just race. You go from being on a warm-up track to being in a couple of call rooms inside the stadium to being thrown out into just a huge crowd.
What's your mom like watching you compete? She just gets overly excited and proud. She’s just excited to see it and proud to watch.
Your Team USA Olympic kit: retired post-Olympics or fair game for daily wear? There’s a few things you don’t wear. Like, you don’t walk around in the medal jacket very often. But there’s tons of really casual, low-key stuff where you don’t know it’s USA until you’re like right in front of the person. You’ll see all of us are kinda wearing it as just bumming-around clothes kinda all the time really, because it’s nice stuff. And we’re working out every day so we’re using a lot of that different stuff.
What Summer Olympic sport would you fail
worst at? Hands-down, swimming. It would be God-awful. It would be the most embarrassing thing to have to compete in right now. I’m super comfortable in water, but my swimming, oh my God. We tried that as an alternative workout and it was just a massive fail. I don’t think I would do our country too proud if I was in a pool.
Paralympic track and field races are Sept. 7–18. paralympic.org/rio-2016
The accountant turned tri phenom on starting off as a desk jockey and the unpredictability of her sport.
Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.
Current Residence: St. Paul
Career: 2012 Olympic Team; two-time ITU World Champion; 15-time winner of ITU World Triathlon Series races; three-time USA Triathlon Elite National Champion
You used to be an accountant, and now you travel all over the world for a living. What’s that been like? Leading up to the London games, I didn’t want to go abroad. I wanted to stay at home and be around family. I’m from the Midwest; I like being home. It’s tough to be away. The biggest thing that changed for me was that my current coach, Jamie Turner, told me it was an investment, not a sacrifice, to be away from home that long.
You’ve said you were shocked when USA Triathlon recruited you. Why? I grew up swimming. I loved swimming. I had a huge passion for it. I dreamt of going to the Olympics in swimming. I was glued to the TV when they had Olympic trials or something on. But I came to the realization at a relatively young age that I would never go to the Olympics in swimming. I just wasn’t good enough—I wasn’t making national teams; I wasn’t making junior national teams. I thought I would never be an Olympian, so when USA Triathlon approached me and said, “You could be an Olympian,” I was shocked.
How do you handle the unpredictability of a triathlon? Every race is completely different, and that’s something that I like about the sport. Every race is different, and then the Olympics are even more different.
Women’s triathlon begins at 9 am on Aug. 20. nbcolympics.com/triathlon
Race photograph by Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Gwen Jorgensen (front) during the Elite Women 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago.
The U of M freshman tells how she stumbled into track cycling, what it’s like to be an odds-on favorite for gold, and riding the wrong way in the velodrome.
High School: Mounds View High School
Career: 2015 USA Cycling Pro Road Race and Time Trial National Championships; 2014 USA Cycling Amateur and Road National Championships, 1st place
You kinda fell backward into velodrome racing, right? I raced the North Star Grand Prix in the Twin Cities in June 2014 and I won the best amateur jersey. A couple of coaches from the pro teams there said, “We can’t invite you to our pro team yet, but we’d like you to try out for track cycling in Colorado Springs.” So I went to a camp there with 30 other women and I thought I did terribly. [Then] a year and a half ago, just after my first semester at the University of Minnesota, I received a call and they were like, “We want you to come out to the Olympic training center.” And so I had like a week to cut all ties with the University of Minnesota, cancel all my classes, and come out here and train for a year and a half.
So when was the first time you rode in a velodrome? January 15, 2015. It’s really intimidating when you first walk in because the walls are banked at about 43 to 45 degrees. So you’re like, “There’s no way I’m staying up on that thing on a bike.”
What’s team pursuit all about? Ultimately it’s a duel between two teams, each with four riders. And the idea is for you to use your four riders in the most optimal way so that three of them can cross faster than the other team.
What do you think the Olympic fishbowl is going to be like? Well, I can anticipate that it will be stressful. But our training is race-simulated and very high-stress.
What are you most looking forward to about Rio? I went to the Pan American Games in Toronto in July 2015 and it was really cool to be in a multi-sport event like that, and I’m hoping the Olympics will be even more so. And interacting with the other Team USA athletes from other sports, which we don’t usually get to do, should be really interesting.
What’s your family like watching you race? My parents have never actually seen me ride the track before. I think for the first two minutes, my mom won’t be able to watch—she’ll be covering her eyes—and for the last half she’ll be screaming.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you racing? In the velodrome you only ride counterclockwise, but when I first got in one, I tried to ride clockwise.
What Summer Olympic sport would you be worst at? Gymnastics.
Women’s mountain biking begins at 10:30 am on Aug. 20. nbcolympics.com/cycling