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2018 Winter Olympics: Everything You Need to Know

How to watch, where to watch and who to watch

Kaitlin Thomas

The 2018 Winter Olympics are upon us, which means if you haven't already, it's now time to start counting up your sick days, scouring official schedules and figuring out which days you'll be calling out of work. Or, if you don't have any sick days left because flu season kicked your butt, you'll need to start figuring out how to watch all the figure skating and curling you want from your desk while fooling your boss into thinking you're actually working. Not that we would know much about that.

Here's everything you need to know to prepare yourselves for one of the greatest traditions in human history.

1. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea
This is the first time in 30 years that Korea has hosted the Olympics; Seoul hosted the Summer Games in 1988. While this is a fun fact that you can and definitely should bust out at viewing parties, it's also important to know this because it obviously involves a major time difference. South Korea is 14 hours ahead of New York and the rest of the Eastern timezone, meaning it is 17 hours ahead Los Angeles. If you want to watch events as they unfold in real time, you will need to plan ahead.

2. The Olympics will consume your life from Thursday, Feb. 8 until Sunday, Feb. 25.
Competition actually begins Thursday, Feb. 8 -- curling and ski jumping kick off the festivities -- but the opening ceremonies will take place the next day, Friday, Feb. 9. Events will continue until the closing ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 25.

3. The games will be broadcast on NBC, but you can also livestream events
NBC will broadcast the Games across all NBC Universal platforms (including NBCSN, USA, and The Olympic Channel) starting with the opening ceremony Friday, Feb. 9 at 8/7c. The aforementioned time difference allows for live coverage of events during U.S. primetime -- with live-viewing across all time zones -- but you would be wise to check out NBC's schedule to find out what will be airing and when. NBC will also host a livestream of their coverage of the games on its website as well as on the NBC Sports app. And for the first time during the Winter Olympics, the opening ceremonies will be livestreamed too.


Mirai Nagasu

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

4. There are just 15 sports in the Winter Olympics
While the Summer Games seem to have 100 different sports, the Winter Olympics have 15. On the slopes you'll find alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, nordic combined, ski jumping, and snowboarding. Over on the ice, you'll see curling, figure skating, ice hockey, short track speed skating, and speed skating. And last but not least, there are the sliding sports bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.

5. There are four events making their Olympics debut in PyeongChang
Who doesn't love new stuff? This winter you'll see big air snowboarding, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating and mixed team alpine skiing join the competition.

6. You should probably familiarize yourself with these folks:
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who took home the top prize in Sochi at 18 to become the youngest Olympic slalom gold medalist, has been called the "the best slalom skier in the world." In PyeongChang, she'll be attempting to become the first person of any gender to repeat as Olympic slalom champion. Meanwhile, Gus Kenworthy, who took home the silver in the inaugural men's ski slopestyle event at Sochi, is also returning. He made waves in 2015 when he became the first action-sports (vs. mainstream sports) star to come out as gay.

Elsewhere, snowboarder Chloe Kim, 17, is poised to become a new Team USA favorite in her first Olympics. She actually qualified in 2014, but she could not compete because of her age. She is the heavy favorite to take home the gold in the halfpipe. Meanwhile, two-time gold medalist Shaun White, who finished fourth in the halfpipe in 2014, will attempt a shot at redemption after qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team earlier this month. He is coming back from a serious injury he sustained in October.

On the ice, watch out for rising star Nathan Chen, 18, the first male figure skater to land five quadruple jumps in a single performance. On the women's side, Mirai Nagasu, who placed fourth at the 2010 Olympics but failed to make the team in 2014, will be going for the gold in PyeongChang.

And last but not least, Pita Taufatofua, better known as Tonga's sexy, oiled-up flag bearer at the Rio Games, will be competing as a cross-country skier. This just feels like something you should know.


PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games medals

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

7. There are 102 medals up for grabs this year
If you're reading this, it probably means you don't stand a chance in winning a medal at the Olympics, which is a shame, because the PyeongChang medals are rather striking, especially compared to those from years past.

8. Bob Costas won't be hosting the Olympics this year
It was announced in 2017 that Bob Costas, who has handled hosting duties for NBC's Olympics coverage since 1992, is stepping down from the role to make way for sportscaster Mike Tirico, who joined NBC from ESPN, where he was the play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football. Who will we be without Bob Costas? We'll soon find out.

9. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will definitely be back
Please don't pretend like this isn't something you were dying to know. Lipinski and Weir will be back as NBC's primetime figure skating announcers. It should go without saying they will once again probably be delightful.

10. Leslie Jones will also be back
Jones, an Olympics super fan, will reprise her role from the Rio Games in PyeongChang. As a contributor for NBC, she will be attending live events, meeting athletes, and according to the network, just "spreading her enthusiasm for the Olympics on television and online."

11. The NHL will not be participating in the Olympics
The National Hockey League announced in 2017 that it will not allow players to participate in the 2018 Olympics, ending five consecutive Winter Olympics involving NHL players. The league did not want to include a 17-day break in the middle of the hockey season to allow for players to participate in the Winter Games, which will likely hurt both the U.S. and Canadian teams' chances of taking home the gold.

12. Russia is banned from the Olympics
In December, the International Olympic Committee announced it was barring Russia's national Olympic committee from the 2018 Games as punishment for its alleged state-sponsored cover-up of athlete doping. However, select athletes will be able to compete under a neutral Olympic flag.

13. The mascot for the PyeongChang Games is a white tiger named Soohorang

Soohorang is very cute. "Sooho" comes from the Korean word for protection, while "rang" comes from the middle letter of ""Ho-rang-i," the word for "tiger." It is also the last letter of "Jeong-seon A-ri-rang," which is a traditional folk song from the Gangwon Province, which is where the Games will be held. You're going to be full of fun facts this winter!

Correction: An earlier version of this story said there would be tape delays of events. This is incorrect; NBC is airing events live in primetime.