6 to Watch: Opening Ceremony, First Golds at 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

6 to Watch: Opening Ceremony, First Golds at 2018 Olympics

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Watch the Opening Ceremony live on NBC 6 at 8 p.m. ET, or on digital platforms here.

Temperatures are likely to be frigid but relations between the two Koreas are thawing, at least temporarily, as the Winter Olympics officially start in South Korea with the opening ceremony at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.

Twenty-two North Korean athletes will participate and bring along 230 cheerleaders, the two Koreas will field a joint women’s ice hockey team and the athletes will march in the opening ceremony under one flag. If political tensions have eased, anxiety has broken out on another front: security guards have been hospitalized with norovirus and military personnel have had to move to handle security.

But anticipation among athletes is building in the stadiums, on the ski slopes and on the bobsled and skeleton courses. As the Games get underway, here’s what you need to watch.

Fireworks explode during the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Jamie Squire/Getty

Opening Ceremony Expresses Hopes for Peace

Competition has already begun in curling, luge and a few other sports in Pyeongchang, but the 2018 Winter Games got off to their spectacular start with the opening ceremony, which will be televised on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. Expect the showiness, glitter and splendor of past Olympic productions wrapped around a theme of peace.

The ceremony reveals the pain of the divided Koreas but also their people’s hope for peace, according to organizers. The director of the opening ceremony, Yang Jung-woong, describes it as a winter fairy tale seen as a dream in which children find peace through adventure.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim, husband and wife duo, stunned the audience in their Olympic debut during the pairs figure skating short program. They pulled off a myriad of difficult tricks, including the triple twist. The pair placed fourth overall. (Published Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018)

"Peace is the most important message, as we are the only divided country in the world," said Song Seung-whan, the general director of the opening and closing ceremonies, according to Nikkei Asian Review. "We want to let the world know about the pain of division and our desire for peace."

For the Koreas, unity was the motif. Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, an increasingly influential figure, is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the South and she sat in the VIP section. She shook hands with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in while they watched the elaborate show.

But it was a different story for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who attended with his wife, Karen. He did not interact with Kim Yo Jong, nor did he stand when the unified Korean team entered the stadium to cheers. And accompanying Pence in South Korea is Fred Warmer, the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea and returned home in a coma.

Early in the ceremony, a puppet tiger danced with children through mountains. During the Parade of Nations, countries entered the stadium to K-Pop music — the United States entering to Psy’s "Gangnam Style." Tonga’s flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, once again appeared shirtless and oiled up, as he had in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Later, a group of Korean musicians sang a cover version of John Lennon’s "Imagine."

Watch live on NBC 6 at 8 p.m. ET, or on digital platforms here.

USA's flagbearer Erin Hamlin leads her delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

Opening Ceremony Stars: South Korea’s Yuna Kim, U.S.’s Erin Hamlin

The highlight of the ceremony remained a secret until the end: the final torch bearer to the light of Olympic cauldron was revealed to be Yuna Kim, a retired figure skater and South Korean superstar. Kim became the first South Korean to win a gold medal in figure skating at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Four years later in Sochi, hoping to become only the third woman to defend her gold medal, she placed second behind Russian Adelina Sotnikova.

Kim retired from competition and became a goodwill ambassador to promote the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Luger Erin Hamlin led the U.S. contingent. The 31-year-old from New York, competing in her fourth and likely last Olympics, was named the team’s flag bearer on Wednesday. She won a bronze medal in singles luge in Sochi, the first American to ever medal in the event.

Her moment also came with controversy. She won the honor over speedster Shani Davis - he claimed by a coin toss. "@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018," Davis tweeted.

Davis was not scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Watch live on NBC 6 at 8 p.m. ET, or on digital platforms here.

New U.S. Olympians Red Gerard (L) and Chris Corning (R). Ker Robertson/Getty, NBC

Teenagers Represent U.S. in Slopestyle Snowboarding

Canadian and Norwegian snowboarders are the favorites in both men’s slopestyle and big air snowboarding, but two first-time Olympians should give the U.S. a chance: teenagers Chris Corning and Red Gerard.

Corning, 18, ranked 14th in slopestyle in the 2016-17 World Snowboarding Tour. His quick rise began the previous season. Gerard, at 17, could become the youngest American snowboarder to win a medal. He is two months younger than Chloe Kim, the favorite in women’s halfpipe.

At the last Winter Games, Ryan Stassel finished 14th in slopestyle.

Other top riders to watch: Canadians Mark McMorris, who competes in Pyeongchang about a year after surviving a terrible snowboarding accident that left him hospitalized, and Max Parrot, known for new tricks, as well as top Norwegian contender Marcus Kleveland.

Watch live on NBC 6 at 8 p.m. ET, or on digital platforms here.

U.S. speedskater J.R. Celski hopes the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will bring better results for him and the U.S. team. After a disappointing performance in Sochi, Celski quit the sport but decided he wanted to come back to try to get better and have fun. (Published Monday, Feb. 5, 2018)

Celski Hits the Short Track

Three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski will lead the U.S. men in his third Olympic Games and will be going to gold in the 1,500 meters. Celski won bronze in the men’s 1,500 meters at the world cup in Seoul this season.

Watch live on NBCSN at 5 a.m. ET Saturday or on digital platforms here.

Lee Jin-Gyu (L) of the Unified Korean team takes a shot on goal during a women's ice hockey practice match between Sweden and a Unified Korean team in Incheon on Feb. 4, 2018, ahead of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Kim Hong-Ji/AFP/Getty Images

A Unified Korean Team Takes the Ice

A preliminary women’s hockey match features a unified team from North and South Korea versus Switzerland at 7 a.m. ET. It will be the first time that the two Koreas have competed together at the Olympic Games. The team is made up of 12 North Koreans and 23 South Koreans; 22 players will can compete in any game.

Watch live on USA at 7 a.m. ET Saturday or on digital platforms here.

In this Sep.21, 2017 photo, South Korean athletes pose with the silver, gold and bronze medals, from left, for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics during an unveiling ceremony in Seoul, South Korea. Lee Jin-man/AP

And the Gold Goes to…

Who will win Pyeongchang’s first gold medal? Medals will be awarded in five events on Saturday in South Korea, including events in biathlon, cross country, speed skating, short-track speed skating and ski jump.

But don’t be disappointed if the Star Spangled Banner isn’t playing in Pyeongchang on Saturday. Americans aren’t the favorite in any of these events.

Women’s biathlon, women’s 7.5 kilometer sprint at 6:15 a.m Saturday. Watch coverage on NBC 6 beginning at 1 p.m. ET Saturday or at 6:15 a.m. live on digital platforms here.

Women’s cross-country skiing, 7.5 kilometer plus 7.5 kilometer skiathlon. Watch live at NBCSN at 2:15 a.m. ET Saturday or on digital platforms here.

Women’s speed skating, 3,000 meters at 6 a.m. Watch on digital platforms here.

Men’s short-track speed skating, 1,500 meters. Watch live on NBCSN at 5 a.m. ET Saturday or on digital platforms here.

Men’s ski jumping, normal hill. Watch live at NBCSN at 7:35 a.m. ET Saturday or on digital platforms here.