It is time again for the Olympics. Our nation’s top figure skaters, half-pipe snowboarders, and bobsledders are currently in Beijing preparing for the biggest competitions of their lives. What do you need to know in order to tune into NBC or the Peacock app with a full appreciation for these athletes’ awesome powers? Everything we have listed below.
ALL THE SNOW IS FAKE
The first thing you should know is that this will be the first Winter Olympics where almost all the snow is fake. This is due to everyone thinking it would be kinda fun to try — just kidding, it’s due to climate change. According to NBC News, it’s estimated that Beijing officials will need to use “49 million gallons of water, 130 fan-operated snow generators and 300 snow-making guns to create 1.2 million cubic meters of fake snow” for the games.
Many Olympians are bummed about this, as fake snow is icier than real snow, and it hurts more when you fall on it. :(
NO FOREIGN SPECTATORS — NOT EVEN SHAUN WHITE’S CELEBRITY GIRLFRIEND NINA DOBREV
Due to China’s strict COVID protocols, no foreign spectators are allowed at the games. One person bound to be upset by that decision is Nina Dobrev, former star of The Vampire Diaries and current girlfriend of Olympic snowboarder Shaun White. If he qualifies on February 8, White will compete in the men’s snowboarding half-pipe final on February 10, where he will attempt to become the first Winter Games athlete to win four gold medals in the same individual event. Unfortunately, Dobrev will not be there to see it.
Instead, she’s snowboarding by herself at a resort that is not in China. And she’s pretty good??
JOHNNY WEIR AND TARA LIPINSKI WILL BROADCAST LIVE… FROM STAMFORD, CT
Again, due to COVID, most of the Olympic commentators we have come to know and love will not be traveling to Beijing. NBC announced last week that they will instead broadcast live from a studio in Stamford, Connecticut. This includes figure skating analysts and minor celebrities Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski. Weir posted a video from HQ this week, and it looks like they may have decorated the studio’s ceiling with fake snow? Or maybe that’s just what the ceiling looks like.
Incidentally, the U.S. women’s figure skating team is not favored to win this year — better bet on the Russians. However, team USA does have the distinction of sending the oldest female figure skater to the Olympics in 94 years. Her name is Mariah Bell, and she is 25.
THERE ARE A FEW AMERICANS TO ROOT FOR
Which Americans do have a chance of winning? On the men’s side of figure skating, Nathan Chen, 22, is back after falling and placing 5th at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. Since then, he’s gone to Yale and won a lot more competitions, and everyone thinks he can win this time. His competition starts tonight at 8 p.m. Go Nathan!
There’s also Chloe Kim, a 21-year-old snowboarder who won gold in 2018 and will probably do so again. She competes next Tuesday and Wednesday. I am really impressed with her corporate sponsorships, especially this one:
When it comes to skiing, 26-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin is probably the best. She starts competing on Sunday and may enter (and win) as many as five events. Go Mikaela!
And we have to give it up for Erin Jackson, a 29-year-old speed skater from Florida who could win gold at the 500m event next Sunday. She almost didn’t make it to the Olympics this year after an “uncharacteristic bobble” in the qualifier last month, but her friend Brittany Bowe gave up her spot in the 500m so Jackson could compete. Go Erin! And that was nice of you, Brittany!
THE OPENING CEREMONY IS AT 6:30 AM EST TOMORROW
Oh my goodness. Yes, you read that correctly: The opening ceremony is airing at 6:30 am EST tomorrow on NBC. You can watch Nathan Chen tonight, but then you have to go right to bed to get up in time tomorrow morning. We don’t know much about what the ceremony will look like, but director Zhang Yimou described it to state broadcaster China Central Television in the following words: “Ethereal. Romantic. Modern. Technological.” I can’t wait!