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Winter Olympics: What to watch/stream today

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The figure skating team competition is back for a second run, and on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, one of Team USA’s biggest stars will be taking center stage.

The United States finished third in the inaugural team event in Sochi, behind gold-medalists Russia and second-placed Canada. Competition for a podium finish seems to be even steeper this year, with Canada and Team OAR both bringing back strong squads. Japan and China will also be expecting to fight for a spot at the top.

The figure skating team event allows each nation to select its strongest skaters in four disciplines: Ladies, Men, Pairs, and Ice Dance.

NBCOlympics.com: What is the figure skating team event? 

Tonight, though, will be all about Nathan Chen. With a Primetime slot on NBC, Chen will be headlining the men’s short program. Chris Knierim and Alexa Scimeca Knierim will be competing in the pairs short program this evening.

Curling action returns tonight, while  luge and freestyle skiing competitions will be getting off to a start.

Figure Skating

Nathan Chen will be making his much-anticipated Winter Olympic debut. U.S. Figure Skating announced in a statement yesterday that the skating phenom will be participating in the team event. The two-time American National Champion will be aiming to complete two quadruple jumps in his debut.

Despite being facing a heavy workload being the only pairs team for the USA, wife and husband duo Alexa Scimeca Knierem and Chris Nierem will be following Chen in the team event in the pairs short program.

The figure skating team event will be aired at 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST.

Stream Live Here 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST

Curling

The mixed doubles competition continues for Team USA’s Matt and Becca Hamilton as they take on hosts South Korea. Both nations got off to hot starts in mixed doubles, as Team USA glided past Team OAR 9-3 and South Korea clinched a 9-4 victory over Finland.

SUI vs. NOR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

USA vs. KOR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

CAN vs. FIN Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST / 5:35p.m. PST

CHN vs. OAR Stream Live Here 8:35p.m. EST/ 5:35p.m. PST

Freestyle Skiing

Competition gets underway with the men’s and women’s moguls opening qualifying rounds. Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury will be the man to watch in this competition. The 2014 silver medalist will be looking to complete his trophy cabinet in PyeongChang, having amassed a record-setting 48 World Cup events in his career.

Team USA’s women’s team will look to two rising stars to end its podium drought. Jaelin Kauf currently leads the overall World Cup standings along with a pair of event wins. Morgan Schild will also be hoping her technical style will propel her to an Olympic medal in 2018.

Women’s moguls qualifying round Stream Live Here 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST

Men’s moguls qualifying round Stream Live Here 9:45p.m. EST / 6:45p.m. PST

Luge

Before American flag bearer Erin Hamlin takes to the course, the men’s individual training kicks off. Germany will again be heavy favorites to win gold in every event. Felix Loch will be taking the helm for his country on Day 1 as he looks to claim his third successive gold medal.

Stream Live Here 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. PST

Alpine Skiing

The men’s downhill skiing training sessions continue. Canada’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis clocked the fastest time in the first session, finishing ahead of Norway’s Kjietel Jansrund.

Steam Live Here 9 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. PST

How Arianna Fontana quietly skated into short track history

Arianna Fontana
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Arianna Fontana is silently one of the greatest short track skaters in Olympic history.

Her numbers at the Games speak for themselves; one gold, two silver, and five bronze. Those eight total medals make her the most decorated female short track skater by two medals, and tie her with legends Apolo Ohno and Viktor Ahn for most Olympic medals ever won by a short track skater.

But it is her numbers outside the Olympic stage that really call attention to her Olympic success. She is a 14-time world medalist, which is no small feat, but her podium appearances are spread over a 12-year competitive career. Someone like Elise Christie, for example, has won 12 world championships medals in just five years. And also unlike Christie, Fontana has never won an overall title.

But Christie struggled on the sport’s biggest stage in both Sochi and PyeongChang, and has yet to win her first Olympic medal. Fontana, on the other hand, has become such a consistent podium presence over the last two Games that she almost makes it look easy.

Before retiring from competition, Ohno won 21 world medals, eight of them gold. Ahn, still competing but not one of the athletes invited to competed at the PyeongChang Olympics as an Olympic Athlete from Russia, has to date has won 35 world medals, 20 of which were gold.

Fontana does not come from a short track power like South Korea or China, perhaps another reason why she is not more notorious.

Most of her medals are bronze, which could be used as a strike against her, but just ask Lindsey Vonn how hard she worked to get hers this year.

Fontana’s first medal came at the 2006 Torino Olympics, when she helped the Italian women to bronze in the 3000m relay at just 15 years old. Fontana earned her first individual medal, a bronze in the 500m, four years later in Vancouver.

But in Sochi, she exploded, making the podium in three out of four events: the 500m, where she won silver, and the 1500m and 3000m relay, where she picked up two more bronzes.

“I thought I was going to win a gold medal in Sochi but I still don’t have that,” Fontana said to the ISU in early 2017. “That’s there up in my mind and sometimes it comes out and says, ‘Hey, you still miss me? So come get me!'”.

But after the 2014-15 season, Fontana’s desire for gold was eclipsed by something else: burnout.

“I was pretty tired mentally. My body was ready to race again but my mind was not. It was hard for me. After the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, I had some doubts about whether to keep skating or not,” Fontana said to the ISU. “Maybe it would have been better to take that year right after the Olympic Games off, but I decided to keep going. It is not that I regret it, but I had some hard times that season.”

She stayed active during her time off, learning how to box, which eased the transition back to skating.

Her pursuit for gold was what motivated her comeback, and in 2018 Fontana got what she came back for.

“When I saw I was first, I was just yelling and started crying. I worked for four years and the last four months were really hard for me. I was really focused on getting here in the best shape ever,” Fontana said after earning the 500m Olympic title.

“I was chasing it and finally I got it.”

In addition to her 500m gold medal, Fontana also added a 1000m bronze and 3000m relay bronze.

Fontana has spoken about retirement, but has not made a definitive decision. She will only be 31 years old by the time 2022 rolls around, so she could feasibly add to her medal haul if she competes. What she has made clear is that when she does leave the sport she hopes to become a personal trainer.

Whenever she does retire Fontana should be considered not only one of the greatest Italian athletes or greatest short track skaters, but also one of the greatest Winter Olympians.

How to watch Closing Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics

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Another Olympics is in the books.

The PyeongChang Closing Ceremony will cap off the 2018 Winter Games Sunday morning, beginning at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT with a live stream of the events.

Jessie Diggins has been named the U.S. flag bearer after an incredibly gutsy performance to take home the country’s first-ever gold medal in Cross-Country.

How, when and where to watch the Closing Ceremony

Stream LIVE on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app: Sunday at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT (Stream here)

The live stream will feature all the sights and sounds of the Closing Ceremony without any commentary.

Watch on TV: Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC (Stream here)

The Olympic figure skating commentating trio of Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon will host the Closing Ceremony on NBC in primetime beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

“It’s a huge honor and privilege,” Lipinski said. “I’m so excited to embark on this new and exciting adventure and bring the Closing Ceremony to the U.S.”

“This is a glorious and unexpected experience that I can’t wait to get fancy for!” Weir said.

Mike Tirico – NBC’s primetime host throughout the PyeongChang Games – hosted the Closing Ceremony for Rio in 2016 alongside Ryan Seacrest and Mary Carillo.

Tirico and Katie Couric hosted the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony in South Korea two weeks ago.

Sunday night’s primetime edition of the Closing Ceremony will also feature simulstreams on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. (Stream here)