Sights and Sounds: The 2018 PyeongChang Opening Ceremony

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Let the games begin! The Opening Ceremony for the 23rd Winter Olympic Games — titled “Peace in Motion” — went down early Friday morning on the other side of the world in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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And it went off without a hitch. Don’t miss the Opening Ceremony’s primetime airing tonight at 8pm ET on NBC and streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.

WATCH: Top moments from 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

PEACE IN MOTION

The gallantry leading up to the Parade of Nations followed the whimsical time-traveling adventure of five children surrounded by hundreds of performers and cultural iconography.

“The opening ceremony will weave together the narratives of five lovable protagonists from Gangwon province through cultural performances,” executive producer of the Opening Ceremony Yang Jung-woong said in January. “The stage will unfold like a winter fairytale depicting the children’s adventure.”

UNITY

As hosts, South Korea’s athletes entered the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium last. They were joined by representatives from North Korea as all compatriots punctuated the Parade of Nations by entering together under the Unification Flag, which was carried by an athlete from each country.

A moment was captured in which South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Yo-jong was later granted the honor of officially announcing the start of the 2018 Olympic Games.

USA GARB

Athletes from the United States marched in the Parade of Nations with a red, white and blue fit by Ralph Lauren sporting classic sweaters and large parkas to go along with tassled nubuck gloves.

TA’OVALA-ING TAUFATOFUA

For the second Olympic Opening Ceremony in a row, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua stole the show.

Tonga’s lone representative created quite a stir at the 2016 Rio Games when he carried the Tongan flag bare-chested and glistening in his traditional ta’ovala.

“I want to still be alive for my race. It’s going to be freezing, so I will be keeping nice and warm,” he said prior to the games.

WATCH: The Shirtless Tongan is back!

But Taufatofua couldn’t resist, entering the arena — again bare-chested and glistening in his traditional ta’ovala — to wild cheers.

Taufatofua remarkably qualified for the Olympics as a cross country skier when he picked up the sport after returning from Rio determined to become Tonga’s first athlete to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics.

THE ARENA

The 35,000-seat PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, which cost upwards of $75 million to construct, was finished late in 2017 and will be used for just four events. The plan is to remove the temporary installation and keep the surrounding facilities as an homage to the 2018 Games.

The arena will host the Closing Ceremony on Feb. 25 and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Paralympics soon after.

THE RINGS

The lighting of the Olympic rings was an impressive show. Glowing snowboarders charged down a darkened competition slope before forming into rings, only revealed as the camera shifted overhead. Simultaneously, new rings seemed to materialize and hover over the mountain for a stirring shot.

WATCH: Opening Ceremony: Drumline

LIGHTING THE CAULDRON

After its 1,254-mile journey across the country, carried by 7,500 runners to represent the 75 million people residing on the Korean peninsula, representatives from North and South Korea climbed a daunting set of lit-up stairs deliver the Olympic flame to its final destination.

As many guessed, it was Korean figure skating gold medalist and superstar Kim Yu-na who received the honor of lighting the cauldron — doing so in skates, no less. Once she lit the base of the cauldron, a ladder of fire periscoped upward to reach the top of a massive white tower visible atop one of the corners of the pentagonal stadium.

WATCH: Opening Ceremony: Auraji Raft

GRAND FINALE

Over 20,000 fireworks were set off during the Opening Ceremony, which concluded with arresting visuals of lasers and fire.

WATCH: Opening Ceremony: Dancers

Bradie’s back: Tennell wows in U.S. Figure Skating Championships return from nightmare

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SAN JOSE, California — Bradie Tennell stood at the end boards, her back to the ice surface, her attention on trying to take in what her imposing coach, Benoit Richaud, was telling her in the final seconds before she took the ice for Thursday’s short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

It was hard for Tennell to stay focused on – or even hear – what Richaud was saying. A group of kids from U.S. Figure Skating’s development camp, who were sitting in the stands near Tennell, started screaming their lungs out when they were shown on the SAP Center video board. Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” was blasting at approximately 10 million decibels on the arena’s sound system.

“It was very distracting,” Tennell said, eschewing an athlete’s usual cliché about nothing being able to break her concentration. “But this past year has taught me nothing comes easy.”

It was a year of injuries, re-injuries, new injuries. A year when the two-time U.S. champion had been physically unable to compete for a spot on a second Olympic team in 2022. A year when Tennell turned her life inside out, moving to France to train with Richaud, only to have more setbacks.

“I’ve definitely had my share of bumps in the road on the way here,” Tennell said. “This was a very long time in the making.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

This was finishing second in the short program, a whisker behind event favorite Isabeau Levito. This was a Tennell performance marred only by unexpected mistakes on spins, her last of seven elements in the short program. This was a statement to anyone who wondered if she could be a factor in the sport again.

“I’m back, baby,” she said, her uncharacteristic bravado tempered by a laugh.

Richaud agreed.

“People can see the job we did, see the improvement,” Richaud said. “Clearly the message tonight is Bradie is one of the best skaters in the world.”

Her skating had a greater maturity and finesse, with striking flow and attention to details of hand movement and body position. She has vowed not to take a pass on any moment in her programs, knowing every second can produce more points.

“I’m a new and improved Bradie,” she said. “I don’t put a limit on myself.”

Tennell opened with a solid triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, the first time she had landed that combination cleanly since her victorious 2021 Nationals. She followed that with a strong triple flip and a good double Axel. A slip on her flying sit spin and a flawed combination spin would cost her the points that dropped her behind Levito, 73.78 to 73.76, going into Friday night’s free skate.

“Made a couple silly mistakes on spins,” Tennell said. “I think I got too excited.”

So as pleased as Tennell was with the result, she once again heard the two voices that quarrel inside her head. One says be satisfied just by being able to compete again; the other wants to win.

“One was jumping up and down with pompoms,” Tennell said. “The other was, ‘But you didn’t get the (highest) spin levels.'”

Starr Andrews was third at 68.97, her highest finish in any segment of the six nationals in which she has competed. Five years ago in this building, Andrews, then 16, had made a dazzling senior debut while finishing sixth, but she has struggled to build on that promise.

“Of course, I wondered if that was going to happen again,” Andrews said.

Andrews helped relive that past glory by wearing the same sparky carmine unitard she had in 2018.

“It was kind of a full circle,” Andrews said. “It was really amazing to be out there again. I felt really comfortable and confident.”

Tennell, too, had created a career-defining moment at this arena in 2018, winning the national title after having finished ninth a year before and going on to earn an Olympic team event bronze medal.

“This is where all my skating craziness started,” she said.

She, too, expressed a feeling of having come full circle. Yet another moment was on her mind as the auditory craziness swirled over her while Richaud, whom Tennell calls “a commanding presence,” was trying to keep her calm by repeating things he had told her earlier this season, when her return to competition had been fraught with poor performances.

Tennell was thinking about the 2019 Nationals in Detroit, when she had won the short program but coped poorly with an unexpected distraction before the free skate.

“I couldn’t get my focus back after that,” she said.

The result was a desultory fourth in the free skate, second overall and a pledge to learn from it.

“I’ve always said to myself if that happened again, I would handle it better,” she recalled.

And she did.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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2023 Australian Open men’s singles draw, scores

Novak Djokovic Australian Open
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At the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic can win a men’s record-extending 10th Australian Open title and tie Rafael Nadal for the most men’s major singles titles in history.

Djokovic was PointsBet Sportsbook’s pre-tournament favorite despite being seeded fourth after missing last year’s Australian Open and U.S. Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

He now faces No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final, also with the No. 1 ranking on the line. Tsitsipas made his fifth Grand Slam semifinal and second final, still seeking his first major title. Every other man in the Open Era (since 1968) to make it to both of those rounds that many times has won a Slam except Todd Martin.

Djokovic’s stock in Melbourne rose after Nadal, the defending champion and top seed, was injured and ousted in the second round by American Mackenzie McDonald. The next day, the No. 2 seed, Norwegian Casper Ruud, was knocked out by American Jenson Brooksby.

Djokovic won three consecutive Australian Opens after a fourth-round defeat in 2018. He is bidding to move one shy of the overall record 11 Australian Open singles titles held by Margaret Court and become the second man to win any major 10 times.

The other man to do it is of course Nadal, who owns 14 French Open crowns. Nadal also owns the men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles overall, just one ahead of Djokovic.

Last year, Nadal won the Australian Open on the heels of a chronic foot injury that had him questioning coming back to tennis at all. He also overcame foot problems to win the French Open, then reach the Wimbledon semifinals before withdrawing with an abdominal muscle tear.

Starting with his U.S. Open fourth-round defeat, Nadal went 1-6 in his seven matches leading into the Australian Open. He beat Jack Draper in the first round this year, but was swept by McDonald amid a hip injury in the second round.

This is the first Australian Open since Roger Federer‘s retirement. Also missing: the injured world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, who at 19 became the youngest men’s Grand Slam champion since Nadal’s first title at the 2005 French Open.

MORE: Australian Open Women’s Draw

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2023 Australian Open Men’s Singles Draw

2023 Australian Open Men's Singles Draw 2023 Australian Open Men's Singles Draw 2023 Australian Open Men's Singles Draw 2023 Australian Open Men's Singles Draw