Opening Ceremony: Friday, February 9
Go Team USA! The 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea started today. As exciting as it is to watch the Olympics and witness the triumph of the human body and spirit, it can be overwhelming figuring out which sports to check out live and which to watch on the highlight reel. Let us give you some tips.
Did you know? This year, six nations qualify for the Winter Olympics for the first time: Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore. Check them out in events including cross-country skiing and figure skating.
NBC has a comprehensive TV and web-streaming schedule: Click here to download.
To help you understand why athletes are sweeping the ice so vigorously in the sport of curling, check out our post that explains all about Olympic Curling.
Of course, there are the perennial Winter Olympics favorites: figure skating, alpine skiing and snowboarding, but why not check out some lesser known, but still exhilarating events?
Ski slopestyle was a new event in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and combines skiing with elements of skateboarding. Athletes ski on a course with obstacles like rails and jumps and get points for amplitude, originality and trick quality (spins, grinds, grabs, and flips). The U.S.A. is counting on world champion and Park City, Utah-native McRae Williams to bring home the gold. Check out a video of Williams in action here.
You may think of biathlon as “that weird event with the skis and guns,” but the sport makes more sense than you think. It has Scandinavian roots, where people often hunted on skis with rifles. Athletes in this event alternate between skiing a cross-country trail and shooting at targets. The U.S.A. is hoping to medal in both the men’s and women’s events. Reigning 20km world champion Lowell Bailey is making his fourth Olympic appearance, while newcomer Susan Dunklee is the first U.S. female biathlete to medal at the world championships. If you want to see biathletes in action, watch this video from Team USA.
Ever heard of skeleton? It’s a sliding sport similar to the luge, but instead of racing feet first on your back, you race head first on your stomach — at speeds of up to 90 m.p.h.! It’s called skeleton because the first sleds were said to resemble the human skeleton; today’s sleds are less ghoulish and can weigh up to 70 pounds. Great Britain is the only country to medal in skeleton every year it has been an Olympic event, which makes sense considering they are credited with inventing the sport. See if Team USA’s Matt Antoine can repeat his medal-winning performance from Sochi this year. If you’d like to explain skeleton to your kids, check out this video of Antoine and Cookie Monster.
Did you know? For the first time, the NHL has banned its players from attending the Winter Olympics citing concerns about cost and injury. It’s the perfect opportunity to check out the U.S.A. women’s ice hockey team and catch superstar Amanda Kessler in action.
There’s plenty of excitement in the most popular events too. Nathan Chen is generating tremendous buzz in men’s figure skating. In the 2016 U.S. Championships, he became the first man to perform four quadruple jumps in a free skate; in 2017 he performed five quad jumps. This will be the 18-year-old’s first Olympics.
In alpine skiing, Mikaela Shiffrin continues to dominate. At age 18 she won gold in the slalom at Sochi, making her the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history. She’s broken several world cup records and currently leads in their overall standings.
And what would the Winter Olympics be without snowboarding legend Shaun White, who will try to make history by becoming snowboarding’s first three-time gold medalist? This will be the 31-year-old’s fourth, and likely last, Olympics. After a disappointing performance in Sochi, he’s looking for redemption.
Did You Know? Norway is the Winter Olympics winningest country, with 329 overall medals. The U.S.A. is second with 282 overall medals. The Soviet Union, which hasn’t competed since it was dissolved in 1991, still ranks fourth in winter medals, with 193.
Now that you know the “what” and the “who,” all you need is the “when.” Two key dates you’ll want to keep in mind are Friday, February 9 and Sunday, February 25. The official opening ceremonies begin on February 9 at 8 p.m. (local time) and will feature Olympic teams from around the world, K-pop (Korean pop music) performances, and a theme of peace. The closing ceremonies take place on February 25 at 8 p.m. and will focus on the human spirit of perseverance.
Click here to download NBC’s comprehensive schedule for live TV and web-streaming. And, go Team USA!
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