For the second time in history, South Korea will open an Olympic Games in the early hours on Friday. For 16 days, the eyes of the world will turn to the Games as the world’s best athletes compete.
Due to the time difference, Americans will get nearly 24 hours a day of coverage, but will also face tape delays for primetime events. Here are some of the top events in the opening week of events.
Opening Ceremony- Friday, Feb. 9, Live 5 a.m, primetime 7 p.m.
For the early risers, or those that have been turned off by the TODAY show’s host attempting to sport in the past will have things to cheer about. The live event will be streaming on the NBC Sports App and the NBC Olympic website. The stream will not be accompanied by host commentary.
The primetime broadcast will be on NBC and hosted by Katie Couric and Mike Tirico.
As usual, the IOC has kept the contents of the ceremony under wraps, which makes the most interesting topic involving the hosts and their neighbors.
South Korea will compete under a unified flag with the North Koreans, and how the world reacts to the Korean team remains in question.
Women’s Hockey- Sunday, Feb. 11, 1:40 am/ 6:00 am
The North Americans teams get into action on Sunday morning. The Americans hit the ice against Finland in search for a gold medal that has eluded the nation since Nagano in 1998.
Four time defending champions Canada take on the Olympic Athletes from Russia the same day. Both games are in Group A, where all teams will advance into the knockout rounds. The top two get byes straight into the semifinals.
Snowboarding Halfpipe- Monday Feb. 12, 7:00 p.m./ Tuesday Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.
For the women’s and men’s halfpipe, Americans will see two excellent athletes at opposite end of their careers. Chloe Kim has been the women to beat in the pipe for a number of years now, but the 17 finally gets her chance to shine at the Olympics.
For the men, it is the ageless Shaun White who looks for his third gold medal. White skipped the Winter X Games to prepare for the Olympics. That event was fiercely contested in Aspen, and all four competitors that scored over 90 are in the Olympics. This includes Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who scored a 99 for gold at the X Games.
Men’s Hockey- Wednesday, Feb. 14, 6:10 a.m.
The United States has not won the Olympic gold medal since Lake Placid in 1980. That was a team of misfit amateurs that came together and pulled one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
This year, with no NHL players involved, the field is pretty wide open, and still in flux. There is still the possibility that the Russian league, the KHL, boycott the Games in response to the IOC’s ban of Russian athletes for doping. Most teams feature KHL players, and they comprise all of the Russian team, who enter among the favorites.
The NHL boycott means that the U.S. squad is a patchwork group of college kids, including Moorhead, MN native Will Borgen, minor league players, European based players, and Brian Gionta. Gionta is the elder statesman of the team, a 15-year veteran of the NHL that last suited up for the U.S. in 2006 in Torino.
The U.S. open play against Slovenia, and are in a group that includes Slovakia and Olympic Athletes from Russia.