Pyeongchang 2018: How to watch must-see events

An Olympics volunteer walks by a sculpture of the Olympic rings at Alpensia Olympic Park Sunday in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI | License Photo

By Alex Butler – UPI

Nearly 3,000 athletes will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Here is how and who to watch.

Team USA is sending 242 athletes to Pyeongchang, including 135 men and 107 women. That group is the largest for any nation in the history of the Winter Olympics.

Despite a dramatic time difference for fans in the United States, you can still catch the action on NBC throughout the Winter Games. That includes on NBC, NBCSN and across the NBC Universal networks. You can also catch the games on the NBC Sports app and streaming live and on-demand on NBCOlympics.com.

The actual events kick off before the Opening Ceremony. The world’s fastest Alpine skiers will perform training runs for the men’s downhill starting at 10 p.m. (all times ET) Wednesday. Mixed doubles curling debuts in the Winter Games with Team USA battling the Olympic athletes from Russia in a round-robin game at midnight Thursday. Canada and Norway, China and Switzerland, USA and Canada and China and Korea follow the first match of mixed doubles curling, before ski jumping events begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

NBC prime-time programming kicks off with figure skating and freestyle skiing at 8 p.m. Thursday. You can catch more mixed doubles curling when USA takes on Switzerland at 8 p.m. on NBCSN. Alpine skiing and luge training will air live at 9 p.m. on NBCSN. Team USA battles South Korea in mixed doubles curling live at 11:35 p.m., following the alpine skiing and luge training sessions.

Prime-time coverage of figure skating team competition starts with the men’s and pairs’ short programs at 8 p.m. Thursday.

That all comes before the opening ceremony, which airs at 8 p.m. Friday on NBC, if you opt not to watch it live at 6 a.m. earlier in the day.

The first medal event to air on TV will be cross-country skiing, including coverage of the women’s skiathlon, from 2 a.m. to 3:05 a.m. on NBCSN on Saturday.

Whom to watch from Team USA

Ted Ligety

Ligety, 33, returns to his fourth consecutive Winter Games. He is the only American man with two gold medals in alpine skiing. Ligety won gold in the combined event in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He finished ninth in the giant slalom at the 2010 Winter Games. Ligety returned to the podium, winning a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Ligety’s 24 world cup victories are second to only Ingemar Stenmark.

“Americans have decent teams in all the sports,” Ligety told UPI. “We have a lot of medal contenders in all sports. I think with snow board and big air…we have three or four extra athletes and America has a chance to win medals and it’s another big group of athletes. We can field teams in all the disciplines so I think that’s one of the reasons that some countries might be a skiing country or whatever it is, where we have contenders in everything. It’s cool to be part of a team that has medal chances in every sport.”

When to watch: men’s combined downhill, 9:30 p.m. Monday; men’s combined slalom, 1 a.m. Tuesday; men’s giant slaom run 1, 8:15 p.m. Feb. 17; men’s giant slalom run 2, 11:45 p.m. Feb. 17.

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin, 22, won the gold medal in the slalom in the 2014 Winter Games. She is the World Cup Champion heading into Pyeongchang.

She will perform in run 1 of 2 in the women’s giant slalom from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday. The Colorado native also tries for a medal in run 2 of the giant slalom from 11:35 p.m. to 1 a.m.

When to watch: women’s giant Slalom run 1, 8:15 p.m. Sunday; women’s giant slalom run 2, 11:45 p.m. Sunday; women’s slalom run 1, 8:15 p.m. Tuesday; women’s slalom run 2, 11:45 p.m. Tuesday; women’s downhill, 9 p.m. Feb. 20.

Jamie Anderson

Anderson, 27, is the defending gold medalist in the slope style. She is the favorite for the snowboarding event again this year, leading a crew including Julia Marino and Hailey Langland. Anderson is a four-time X Games slope style gold medalist.

When to watch: women’s slope style qualification, 11:30 p.m. Saturday; women’s slope style final, 8 p.m. Sunday; women’s big air qualification, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18; women’s big air final, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22.

Shaun White

White, 31, is going for his third Olympic title in snowboarding. He won a gold medal in 2006 and another in 2010, but was kept from the podium in 2014. The 13-time Winter X Games gold medalist won his two medals in the half-pipe event.

When to watch: men’s half-pipe qualification, 11 p.m. Monday; men’s half-pipe final, 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn was the youngest member of the women’s alpine team when she made her debut at the Winter Olympics in 2002. Now at 33 she is the oldest female Olympic medalist in alpine skiing history. She won her first two Olympic medals — gold and bronze — at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

When to watch: women’s super-G, 9 p.m. Feb. 16; women’s downhill, 9 p.m. Feb. 20; women’s combined downhill, 9 p.m. Feb. 22; women’s combined slalom, 12:30 a.m. Feb. 24.

Kelly Clark

Clark, 34, is most decorated Olympic snowboarder of all time. She is appearing in her fifth consecutive Winter Games. She made her debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, winning a gold medal in the half-pipe. She won bronze medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Vermont native was the first woman to land a 1080 in a half-pipe competition, when she did it in 2011. Clark also owns seven X Games gold medals.

When to watch: women’s half-pipe qualification, 11:30 p.m. Sunday; women’s half-pipe final, 8 p.m. Monday.

Jessie Diggins

Diggins, 26, could be the first American woman to reach the podium in cross-country skiing. She did not win a medal during her first Winter Olympics appearance in 2014 in Sochi, but is the most decorated U.S. cross-country athlete in world championship history. The United States hasn’t won a medal in cross-country since 1976.

When to watch: women’s 15km skiathlon, 2:15 a.m. Saturday; women’s individual sprint qualification, 3:30 a.m. Tuesday; women’s individual sprint quarterfinals, 6 a.m. Tuesday; women’s individual sprint semifinals, 6:55 a.m. Tuesday; women’s individual sprint final, 7:25 a.m. Tuesday; women’s 10km individual, 1:30 a.m. Feb. 15; women’s 30km mass start, 1:15 a.m. Feb. 25.

J.R. Celski

Celski, 27, won two bronze medals during his first Winter Olympics appearance in 2010 at the Vancouver Games. He cashed in for a silver medal in the men’s 5000m relay at the 2014 Sochi Games. Celski also won the men’s overall title at the 2017 U.S. National Championships.

When to watch: men’s short track speed skating 1500m finals, 7:22 a.m. Saturday; men’s 1000m finals, 7:21 a.m. Feb. 17; men’s 500m finals, 6:13 a.m. Feb. 22; men’s 5000m relay finals, 6:47 a.m. Feb. 22.

Shani Davis

Davis, 35, became the first black athlete from any country to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he won the 1000m gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. He also earned a silver medal in the 1500m that year. He defended his title in the 1000m event and won a silver medal in the 1500m at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

He was kept from the podium at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, placing eighth in the 1000m and 11th in the 1500m. Davis is likely competing in his final Winter Games. He won the 1000m gold at the 2015 World Championships.

When to watch: men’s 1500m speed skating, 6 a.m. Tuesday; men’s 1000m, 5 a.m. Feb. 23.

Joey Mantia

Mantia, 31, did not reach the speed skating podium at the 2014 Sochi Games, placing 15th in the 1000m, 22nd in the 1500m and seventh in the team pursuit. He was the 2017 world champion in the mass start. The former accomplished inline skater switched to the ice before the 2014 Winter Games.

When to watch: men’s 1500m speed skating 6 a.m. Tuesday; men’s 1000m, 5 a.m. Feb. 23; men’s mass start final, 8 a.m. Feb. 24.

Maame Biney

Team USA’s Maame Biney is the first African-American woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speed skating team. The 18-year-old is one of the youngest members of team USA. She’ll lead the Americans in the 400-meter race short track competition.

When to watch: women’s 500M heats 5:44 a.m. Saturday; women’s 500M quarterfinals, 5 a.m. Tuesday; women’s 500M semifinals, 6:11 a.m. Tuesday; women’s 500M finals, 7:07 a.m. Tuesday.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim

Husband and wife team Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim will be paired up for several ice skating events. Chris, 30, and Alexa, 26, won the U.S. International Classic in September and won the U.S. national title in January.

When to watch: pairs short program, 9:45 p.m. Thursday; pairs’ free skate, 11:40 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10. Pairs Short Program, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13. Pairs Free Skate, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Maia and Alex Shibutani

Brother and sister combo Alex, 26, and Maia, 23, Shibutani officially became a duo in 2004. They won their first national title in 2016 and finished ninth at the 2014 Olympics. The Shib Sibs finished third at the 2017 World Championships. They have medaled at the U.S. Championships for 13 consecutive years.

When to watch: ice dance free skate, 8 p.m. Feb. 19.

Nathan Chen

Nathan Chen, 18, became the first man to perform four quads in a free skate at the 2016 U.S. Championships, won a gold medal at the 2017 U.S. Championships, becoming the first skater to include five quads in a free skate. He also won the Four Continents Championship. He became the first man to complete six quads in a free skate at the 2017 World Championships, but finished sixth in the competition.

When to watch: men’s short program, 8 p.m. Thursday; men’s free skate, 8 p.m. Sunday.

Men’s ice hockey

Team USA hasn’t won a gold medal in men’s ice hockey since 1980, but has finished in the top four in three of the previous four Winter Games. Russia is the favorite for the games this year, which is being played without players from the National Hockey League.

When to watch: USA vs. SLO, 6:30 a.m. Feb. 14; USA vs. SVK, 10 p.m. Feb. 15; USA vs. OAR, 7:10 a.m. Feb. 17. Men’s playoff, 10:10 p.m. Feb. 19; 2:40, 7 and 7:10 a.m. Feb. 20. Men’s quarterfinals, 10 p.m. Feb. 20, 2:40 and 7:10 a.m. Feb. 21. Men’s semifinals, 2:15 and 6:45 a.m. Feb. 23. Men’s bronze medal game, 6:30 a.m. Feb. 24. Men’s gold medal game, 10:30 p.m. Feb. 24.

Women’s ice hockey

The United States’ women’s hockey team has won a medal in every Winter Games since 1998, including a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics. The Americans also have three silver medals and a bronze medal. Team USA lost 3-2 to Canada in overtime in the final of the 2014 Winter Games.

When to watch: USA vs. FIN, 2:40 a.m. Sunday; USA vs. OAR, 7:10 a.m. Tuesday; USA vs. CAN, 10:10 p.m. Feb. 14. Women’s quarterfinals, 10 p.m. Feb. 16, 2:30 a.m. Feb. 17. Women’s semifinals, 11:10 p.m. Feb. 18., 7:10 a.m. Feb. 19. Women’s bronze medal game, 2:30 a.m. Feb. 21. Women’s gold medal game, 10:45 p.m. Feb. 21.

Winter Olympics closing ceremony

When to watch: 8 p.m. Feb. 25 on NBC.

According to the all-time standings in the history of the Olympics, the United States has a record 2,803 medals. The Soviet Union/Unified Team has 1,307 for second place and Great Britain has 875 medals for third place. Germany and France are tied for fifth place with 824 medals. Italy, Sweden, Russia, Easter Germany and Australia round out the top-10 in all-time medal count.

The Americans also lead the all-time gold medal count at 1,118, dwarfing second place Soviet Union/Unified Team (510), Great Britain (274) and the rest of the field.

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