Although action for the 2014 Winter Olympics begins on Thursday, it isn't until Friday that the event officially kicks off, with the opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia.
This is always one of the biggest highlights of the entire Olympics. The host country spares no expense to put on as grand a show as possible, especially after Beijing wowed spectators during the 2008 Olympics.
The 2014 Olympics cost a reported $51 billion, so Russia has been breaking the bank in order to both welcome tourists and try and give the athletes the best facilities possible.
It should be a spectacular show.
Here's the info you need to tune into the opening ceremony, followed by a brief preview of two of the top storylines headed into the 2014 Olympics.
When: Friday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. ET; 7:30 p.m. PST
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia
Top Storylines to Watch in Sochi
Who Will Top the Medal Table?
In terms of the all-time medal table, Norway reigns supreme. It's collected a total of 313 medals, 39 more than the United States; 112 of those medals are gold, 19 more than the U.S.
However, in 2010, Norway only managed a fourth-place finish in the medal table. Its nine golds were tied for third, but it only picked up eight silver and six bronze.
Canada went on to win the most gold medals (14), while the U.S. had the most overall medals (37).
It will be interesting to see if one of those countries will find itself right back at the top of the medal table, or if somebody like Austria, South Korea or China can put together a great Olympics. Host Russia isn't a bad bet, either.
The Wall Street Journal projected how things will pan out, and the Norwegians ended up on top, per WSJ's Matthew Futterman:
This country of 5 million people is poised to pull off one of the great triumphs in sports by winning the overall medal race and likely the most gold medals at the Sochi Olympics. The Wall Street Journal's medal projections for Sochi suggest the Norwegians will win 33 medals, one more than a strong team from the U.S., whose population is roughly 65 times as large. The two countries should be neck and neck for the internationally coveted spot atop the gold-medal table as well. Deep teams from Canada and Germany could challenge for supremacy, too—and keep an eye on the Russians with their home-snow advantage.
There's no concrete way to determine who will be the biggest winner. Some like judging countries on golds alone, while others simply go by the final count across all three medals. Another way to look at it is by a weighted system where the points descend for each medal, so a country could get three for a gold, two for silver and one for bronze.
Or maybe you can configure a medal table in which your country comes out on top. That's the beauty of it.
Which Stars Will Shine the Most?
Every four years, there's a select group of athletes who gain worldwide fame for their performance at the Winter Olympics.
The nature of the event means that more often than not, the last crop of stars is pushed aside to make way for the new wave of big names.
A lot of eyes will be on Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold for the United States.
Of course, when your last name is Gold, you're a sportswriter's dream. However, the 18-year-old is supremely talented, winning gold at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Gold's coach, Frank Carroll, said that Gold has everything it takes to succeed in Sochi, per USA Today's Kelly Whiteside.
"I think she's incredibly elegant," he said. "She has a beautiful face, a beautiful body and she's long and she jumps high and she floats through the air. ... Kind of a complete package."
Wagner's place on the U.S. team came not without controversy, as some wondered why she jumped ahead of Mirai Nagasu, who finished third at the U.S. Championships.
The battle between Wagner and Gold will be fun to watch, as will how the United States performs in the inaugural team event.
Other top stars to watch will be Canada's Mark McMorris, who's competing with a broken rib, and Patrick Chan, Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands, Russia's Viktor Ahn and, everybody's favorite, the Jamaican bobsled team.
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