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Yuna Kim takes early lead at Worlds

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Vancouver gold medalist Yuna Kim made her comeback look easy Thursday, winning the short program at her first major competition since 2011.

“I was worried because it has been a long time since I competed at the world championships,” she said. “But at the same time I was confident.”

Kim glided to a 69.97 to go up more than three points on defending world champ Carolina Kostner of Italy, who earned 66.86 for her short program. Kanako Murakami of Japan sits in third, and her teammate, two-time world champ Mao Asada, is in sixth after flubbing a combination.

The American girls didn’t wow anyone on day one, but both put in solid performances as U.S. champ Ashely Wagner slid into fifth and Gracie Gold ended up in ninth – the same position she sat in at nationals before an impressive free skate propelled her to silver.

“The short program is harder for me than my long program,” Gold told USA Today after scoring 58.85 on Thursday. “But I do love it and know I can skate it really well. So I’m glad that I showed the judges and the audience and everyone watching what I can do under pressure.”

Wagner and Gold need to combine for thirteenth place or better in order for the U.S. to get a third slot in next February’s Sochi Olympics.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

Fenway Big Air
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Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.

Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.

Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.

WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.

Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice

Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympics open with homages to 1994

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In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.

The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.

The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.

Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi