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3 to Watch: Opening Ceremony, Final Torch Bearer and Snowboarding

NBC kicks of its coverage of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Tune in to NBC Bay area at 5 p.m. tonight for a special broadcast of the opening ceremony. Not near a TV? You can also catch it on your phone or computer right here.

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Let the games begin! Watch the official start to the first ever Olympic Winter Games in South Korea Friday night with NBC's special primetime coverage. 

Here are some of the highlights to look out for: 

1. Opening Ceremony Expresses Hopes for Peace

(Spoiler alert: The ceremony took place earlier in South Korea at 3 a.m. PT, but you can watch the full show tonight on NBC Bay Area starting at 5 p.m. with commentary from our broadcast team)

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.

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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.

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.

"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."

How to Watch: Tune in tonight on NBC Bay Area at 5 p.m. PT, or on digital platforms here.

2. 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. 

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Kim Yu-na, South Korean Figure Skater lights the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

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.

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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.

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.

How to Watch: Tune in tonight on NBC Bay Area at 5 p.m. PT, or on digital platforms here

3. 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. 

Scott Bair
New U.S. Olympians Red Gerard (L) and Chris Corning (R).

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.

How to Watch: See the action LIVE on NBC Bay Area at 5 p.m. PT, or on digital platforms here.

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