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Bundle up for a month of Winter Olympics on TV

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Competition in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea, begins today from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on NBC. The Opening Ceremony will air from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, with Mike Tirico and Katie Couric as hosts.

Tirico replaces veteran Bob Costas, who was NBC's prime-time host for a record 11 Olympics and now has eased into a sort of emeritus status. Couric replaces Matt Lauer, who was fired by the network in November for "inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

All together, there will be 89 commentators in the field for NBC, a number of them former Olympians. They include 1984 U.S. Olympic figure skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton and 1998 U.S. Olympic figure skating gold medalist Tara Lipinski.

Also on hand will be six-time U.S. Olympic alpine skiing medalist Bode Miller, eight-time U.S. Olympic short track speed skating medalist Apolo Ohno and 1992 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.

For a dash of fun, Saturday Night Live cast member and Olympics super fan Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters) will reprise her role from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as a contributor.

The games will run daily through the closing ceremonies on Feb. 25. Due to the time difference between here and there, many of the events will air live in prime time.

Time difference example: South Korea is 15 hours ahead of Little Rock. When it's 9 a.m. today in Arkansas, it will be midnight and already Friday in Korea.

In addition to NBC, some events will air on sister channels NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), USA and CNBC. For a handy overview of each day's lineup, including time and channel, check out the schedule at NBCOlympics.com.

For those who prefer to watch online, NBCOlympics.com will also stream more than 1,800 hours live and on-demand. This will include plenty of highlights and video features.

I suggest you refer to the schedule often. The action will be fast, furious and confusing. For example, if you're into the tense, slow-motion drama of curling, competition began at 11 p.m. Wednesday on NBCSN and runs until 8 a.m. today when ski jumping takes over.

If you're sticking to prime-time events on NBC, figure skating team competition begins at 7 p.m., today with the men's and pairs' short program. In addition, qualifying rounds in freestyle skiing will feature the men's and women's moguls. Canadian Mikael Kingsbury is the men's favorite.

Over on NBCSN, the American mixed double curling squad takes on Switzerland at 7 p.m., followed by Alpine skiing and luge live at 9.

The U.S. Olympic Team has 242 athletes (135 men, 107 women) who will go for the 102 medals up for grabs. Here's the list of all the Olympic events.

Snow sports: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping, Snowboard.

Ice sports: Short Track Speed Skating, Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Curling.

Sliding sports: Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton.

Skeleton? I had to look that up. It's where a person rides a small sled (the skeleton) down a frozen track while lying face down. In elite racing, speeds reach a terrifying 80 mph.

Who are the hotshots on Team USA to keep an eye on? The pre-games buzz has been surrounding these athletes:

Mikaela Shiffrin, 22, considered the best slalom skier in the world.

Jamie Anderson, 27, snowboarder who won gold in 2014 in the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

Gus Kenworthy, 26, skier who won silver in Sochi, came out as gay in 2015 and has renewed confidence.

Chloe Kim, 17, snowboarder considered the gold medal favorite in her first Olympics.

Lindsey Vonn, 33, veteran downhill skier and Team USA favorite who was injured before Sochi but is now healed and ready.

Nathan Chen, 18, one of the world's best figure skaters, he was the first male to land five quadruple jumps during a performance.

Elana Meyers Taylor, 33, the first American woman to win two Olympic bobsled medals, will be going for No. 3.

Maddie Bowman, 24, won a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the ski halfpipe and is back to defend her title.

Alex and Maia Shibutani, ages 26 and 23 respectively, are sibling ice dancers who finished ninth at Sochi but hope to make it big at PyeongChang.

Finally, every Olympics needs a nifty mascot to put on pins and posters and use as plush toys. The Koreans have chosen a cartoon white tiger named Soohorang. The little guy is adorable.

The white tiger has been long considered Korea's guardian animal and the name comes from "sooho," meaning protection, and "ho-rang-i," meaning tiger.

Check out the cool animated video of Soohorang demonstrating the 15 Olympic disciplines at Olympic.org.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 02/08/2018

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