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Pyeongchang takes center stage of the sporting world on Friday, hosting elite athletes for the Winter Olympics and hoping to raise its profile as a winter resort destination. But if you had never heard of Pyeongchang before now, you’re not alone.
Pyeongchang is a county, not a city, and and up to now it has been known primarily as a rural mountain retreat, with a population of just over 40,000 people, located about 40 miles from the demilitarized zone and North Korea. It has Buddhist temples and a reputation for a healthful climate. But it wants a reputation as a sports mecca. And so now, 30 years after Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, Pyeongchang is seizing the spotlight.
Here’s a rundown of more things to know about this place that finds itself welcoming tens of thousands of athletes, media and spectators.
“Happy 700” in Pyeongchang
Hosting the Winter Olympics has been a longtime pursuit for officials in Pyeongchang and its home province of Gangwon: It took three tries for the county to finally win the right to host the games.Pyeongchang promotes itself as having an ideal climate – in part because a phalanx of mountains help block air pollution from the northwest, and in part because of the “Happy 700” — the 700-meter altitude (about 2,300 feet) that Pyeongchang’s boosters say is optimal for the health of people and animals.
Not long now before the cowbells start ringing and the PyeongChang hills echo to the sound of alpenhorn.
Yes the 23rd Winter Olympiad is slaloming toward us at pace. The mixed doubles curlers have the honour of sweeping us into the action on Thursday morning local time, followed by the men’s ski-jumping qualification in the afternoon.
The low impact intro continues on the rink on Friday, a day dominated by the opening ceremony in a $110 million pop-up stadium with a capacity of 35,000. The structure has a four-gig run, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the winter and Paralympic games before being torn down. Sorry West Ham United, you can’t have it.
Fears of inhospitable temperatures low enough at -20 degrees centigrade to freeze nasal cavities have eased, although at -10 and without a roof the 243-strong American team might still have to activate their heated parkas, shot through with heat-conducting ink.
Anderson’s win comes afterspun to gold in men’s slopestyle and . And here’s a clue for Monday’s NBC coverage: Team USA is expected to add to its medal haul when 17-year-old phenom Chloe Kim drops into the halfpipe. We’ve got everything you need to check out all the action from NBC’s coverage of the Pyeongchang Games, whether you want to binge on NBC’s live TV coverage or stream live coverage online through the NBC Sports App or via fuboTV (try for free) or at NBCOlympics.com.
, if you feel like watching events live and staying up late, the app and the stream at NBCOlympics.com will certainly come in very handy — especially on the go.
The action opens with a round-robin stage where the eight teams are divided into groups of four. The top six teams from that stage advance to the playoff round, which begins Feb. 17. The gold medal game is set for Feb. 21.
It’s important to note that the schedule for this event gets a bit wonky given the time difference from Pyeongchang. For example, the gold medal game is on Thursday, Feb. 22 local time in South Korea, but it’ll still be Wednesday night in the United States. The schedule below takes that into account, so games are listed based on when they’ll be played on Eastern time.
The Americans have dominated the international hockey scene recently, winning four consecutive World Championships, but they haven’t won Olympic gold since the first women’s tournament in 1998. Canada beat the U.S. in the gold medal games in 2010 and 2014, which has led to a fierce rivalry between the two countries.
A potential USA-Canada rematch for gold is the big thing to root for, but this is also a unique opportunity to watch players who often don’t get to play under the bright lights. Make sure to stay glued to The Ice Garden, SB Nation’s women’s hockey website, all month for the most detailed coverage around.
How the tournament works
The tournament starts with the eight teams divided into groups of four for the preliminary stage. The United States, Canada, Finland, and Olympic Athletes from Russia are in Group A. Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, and Korea are in Group B.
All four teams from Group A will automatically advance to the playoff stage, with the top two teams automatically advancing to the semifinals. The other two teams play in the quarterfinals against the top two finishers from Group B.
The playoff stage plays out as a standard single-elimination bracket. There’s also a losers’ bracket to determine the complete order of all eight teams.
All times ET
Saturday, Feb. 10
Group B: Sweden 2, Japan 1
Group B: Switzerland 8, Korea 0
Sunday, Feb. 11
Group A: United States 3, Finland 1
Group A: Canada 5, Olympic Athletes from Russia 0
Monday, Feb. 12
Group B: Switzerland vs. Japan, 2:40 a.m. (NBCSN)
Group B: Sweden vs. Korea, 7:10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Tuesday, Feb. 13
Group A: Canada vs. Finland, 2:40 a.m. (NBCSN)
Group A: United States vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia, 7:10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Group B: Sweden vs. Switzerland, 10:10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wednesday, Feb. 14
Group B: Korea vs. Japan, 2:40 a.m. (USA Network)
Group A: United States vs. Canada, 10:10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Thursday, Feb. 15
Group A: Olympic Athletes from Russia vs. Finland, 2:40 a.m. (USA Network)
Friday, Feb. 16
Quarterfinals, 10:10 p.m. (CNBC)
Saturday, Feb. 17
Quarterfinals, 2:40 a.m. (USA Network)
5th-8th place game, 10:10 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 18
5th-8th place game, 2:40 a.m.
Semifinals, 11:10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Monday, Feb. 19
Semifinals, 7:10 a.m. (NBCSN)
5th-8th place game, 10:10 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
5th-8th place game, 2:40 a.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 21
Bronze medal game, 2:40 a.m. (USA Network)
Gold medal game, 11:10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wales had a similar result after beating Scotland 34-7 and they currently sit level with England at the top of the table. When the two sides clashed last year, England managed to edge out a win 21-16 on their way to the championship. The Wales national team is currently seventh in the world rankings, whilst England sits in second.
“This time last week Wales had zero chance. Now, they have a chance.”Ex-Wales captain Martyn Williams says Saturday’s Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham is “as big as it can be” after both sides enjoyed comprehensive winning starts.
Champions England hammered Italy on Sunday and have won 14 home games in a row, but Williams believes Wales’ scintillating win over Scotlandlast weekend shows they can cause an upset.
“Last week all the talk was Scotland, with everybody putting Wales down, but they sent them home packing,” Williams told BBC Radio 5 live.”It’s a totally different game going to Twickenham and the expectation is now on Wales. No doubt they’ll have respect for England, they’re a different animal, but Wales will be confident.”They have got their swagger back and Wales are dangerous team when they’re confident.”
England, who have a 100% record at Twickenham under Eddie Jones, have made two changes from their opening victory against Italy and will line up against an unchanged Wales side.
Danny Care will become England’s most capped scrum-half when he wins his 78th cap and overtakes World Cup winner Matt Dawson, while Jonathan Joseph replaces Ben Te’o in the centre.
When is England vs Wales? The match between the two sides will be on Saturday 10th February 2018 at 16.45 GMT. It will will take place at the Twickenham Stadium in London. What TV channel will it be on? England v Wales will be shown live on ITV from 16:20 and it will be presented by Mark Pougatch, with commentary provided by Nick Mullins, Lawrence Dallaglio and Shane Williams.
But the build-up to the game has been dominated by England head coach Jones’ criticism of various Welsh players including fly-half Rhys Patchell.
Jones said Patchell’s own team-mates will have doubts over his “bottle” for Saturday’s meeting, comments which were laughed off by the Wales camp.Jones also questioned Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones’ conduct towards referee Pascal Gauzere in Cardiff, prompting the Welshman to joke he was “ready for a chat with Uncle Eddie”.”I don’t know if there’s an element of deflection or anything like that,” Jones said on Friday.”But ultimately as players, that kind of stuff goes on outside the tent. We are inside the tent and we need to deal with what goes on inside the white lines.”
Wales centre Jamie Roberts, a guest on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, believes Saturday’s battle at Twickenham will be “like a game of chess”.
England have won the last three encounters against Wales, including a last-gasp victory in Cardiff in the 2017 Six Nations, but in the past decade under Warren Gatland, Wales have secured three victories at Twickenham.
“I think the players believe they can win there,” said Roberts, who expects the influence of “Test-match players”, full-backs Leigh Halfpenny and Mike Brown, to be pivotal.
“We talk about the difference between club players and international players. Brown and Halfpenny are guys who can handle pressure and deliver basic skills repeatedly, time after time, at the highest level,” he added.