WHO TO WATCH AT THE WINTER OLYMPICS Some Faces to Keep an Eye on at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The opening ceremonies are on Friday, February 9. However, a few events actually begin on Wednesday and Thursday: alpine skiing, biathlon, curling, luge and ski jumping get an early start. No Bob Costas or Matt Lauer this year, Mike Tirico will handle observations and commentary for NBC. Tirico takes the seat occupied by Costas since 1992.

This cold weather version of the Olympics is happening 110 miles southeast of Seoul, South Korea in Pyeongchang. There will 102 medals awarded in 15 disciplines over the course of 19 days. For a few weeks – the world will glue to the TV and pretend for a moment as if they know the difference between a Salchow and toe loop.

Here is what’s happening and who to watch.

Lindsey Vonn, Skier
Bode Miller retired as the most successful male American alpine ski racer of all time. Lindsey Vonn marches on and joins the USA Olympic team for a fourth time. Since moving on from Tiger Woods, Vonn has won five of her past eight races. Perhaps 2018 will be huge years for both the “Big Cat” on the golf course and Vonn on the slopes. Vonn is the favorite to win the women’s downhill – USA! USA! USA!

Shaun White, Snowboard
The comeback should be in effect with massive ferocity. White failed to medal in his signature event at the 2014 Games in Sochi, the halfpipe – he will be hunting for gold. He enters the Olympics in prime form – he scored a perfect 100 at Snowmass to qualify for the Olympic team, his fourth. Get the gold, brah!

Nigerian Women’s Bobsled Team
It doesn’t snow in Nigeria – never has, never will. Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga and Simidele Adeagbo are Nigeria’s first women’s bobsled team. Not a shocker. GoFundMe helped the team raise enough money to get to Pyeongchang. Unfortunately for the ladies, a movie about an unlikely group of bobsledders has already been made – it’s called Cool Runnings.

Mikaela Shiffrin, Skier
Shiffrin, age 18 entered the 2014 Olympics in Sochi as the favorite to win the slalom – she did. That gold made her the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history. She also won the slalom World Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2017. She’s been winning slalom so long that she was a guest on David Letterman back in 2013. This year she’s trying to win gold in slalom, giant slalom and win the events Lindsey Vonn specializes in – Shiffrin’s going for five.

Jessie Diggins
Jessie is a Midwest girl at heart and is the self-described 'cheerleader' of her cross-country ski team. Diggins and her teammates will have a tough battle to medal, since no American woman cross-country skier has ever reached the podium before. However, given that the 26-year-old is currently third in the World Cup standings, she has a really great shot to come home with some hardware. Regardless, she will be fun to watch.

Madison Hubbell
Madison and her partner Zachary Donohue will be battling for gold in ice dancing. Madison is one tough competitor, having battled back from a torn labrum in her hip and a concussion. All of the US competitors in this space are tough, much less the rest of the field. Let's hope we get to see her dance on the top of the podium.

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