- By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
In a couple of days, the 2018 Winter Olympics will get underway. Years of planning, building and qualifying -- along with some international intrigue when it comes to who will be competing -- will all come together in a pageant of national pride in a stadium in the northern part of South Korea.
What can you expect from this year’s games? Here are a few things to look for as you watch the 2018 Winter Olympics.
1. It’s going to be cold: Pyeongchang is in the northeast corner of South Korea. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Eastern) Friday and will likely see a temperature of between 15-20 degrees F. February is the city’s coldest and driest month. American athletes will have battery-heated parkas for the ceremony.
2. Something new: You’ll see some new events in these Winter Olympic Games. Look for big-air snowboarding, the Alpine team competition, a mixed-gender slalom, mixed doubles curling, and mass-start speedskating.
3. The two Koreas: Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has allowed athletes from his country to cross the Demilitarized Zone and enter South Korea to participate in the games. He is also sending his sister to represent the country. Athletes from North and South Korea will march under the Korean Unification flag during the Opening Ceremony. There will also be a Korean women’s hockey team made up of members from both countries.
4. North Korea will be there, but what about Russia: Russia was banned from competition in this Winter Olympics because of issues of doping. However, 169 athletes from Russia will compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” They will march in the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag, and the Olympic anthem will be played, should they win medals.
5. Hey, who is the new guy: There are six nations making their Winter Olympics debut this year. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore are all participating in their first Winter Games.
$900 million: The amount generated in national ad sales for the Pyeongchang Games.
$19.6 million: The amount spent on cybersecurity and X-ray screening for the games.
$13 billion: The estimated cost of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
$4,683: The average price of a weeklong trip to Pyeongchang for the Olympics.
242: The number of athletes on the U.S. team; it’s a record.
45: The age of German speedskater Claudia Pechstein. She will be the first woman to compete in seven Winter Olympic Games.
39: The age of Team USA Hockey player Brian Gionta.
17: The age of Vincent Zhou, the youngest U.S. Olympian.
14: Number of hours Pyeongchang is ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.
Here’s a refresher on how to watch the games.
When do the Olympics begin?
The first events, ski jumping and curling, are scheduled for Thursday. The Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday. The games end on Feb. 25, when the Closing Ceremony will be held.
How you can watch the Opening Ceremony The Opening Ceremony begins at 8 p.m. local time in South Korea – that’s 6 a.m. ET. If you want to see the ceremony live, you can catch it on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Those services are available on streaming devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Roku. NBC will broadcast an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. ET. Katie Couric and Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremony.