Aspen sent four athletes to the Sochi Winter Olympics, which officially kick off with opening ceremonies on Friday night (though some competitions began Thursday) and run through February 23. Here’s what you need to know about when (in Mountain Standard Time) — and how — to watch our hometown heroes, so you can cheer them on from afar.
Team USA’s first chance to medal is in the inaugural team figure skating event — an event for which Aspen-bred figure skater Jeremy Abbott has been selected to participate. The event includes eight competition segments featuring one man, one woman, or one pairs team from the ten top national teams. Abbott skated in the men’s short program segment on Thursday, placing seventh and earning Team USA four points. The five teams with the highest points after the short programs wrap up on Friday advance to the free skate/dance finals on Saturday and Sunday. So if Team USA qualifies, Abbott might skate again in the free program on February 9, although the team is allowed to exchange up to two competitors at its discretion. Highlights from the team competition, which on Thursday also includes a pairs short program, air on NBC Primetime from 7-10 pm.
Friday, February 7
Beginning at 6:30 pm on NBC Primetime, look out for local Olympians Abbott, Simi Hamilton (cross-country skiing), Noah Hoffman (cross-country skiing), and Torin Yater-Wallace (ski halfpipe) in the opening ceremonies.
Sunday, February 9
Noah Hoffman, America’s No. 1 distance cross-country skier, competes in the first of his four events: the men’s skiathlon, which splits a 30-kilometer race into two equal segments using first classic skis, then switching to skate skis for the second half. The skiathlon will be shown on NBC Daytime, which airs from 1-5 pm.
Tuesday, February 11
Next up is fellow Aspen cross-country athlete Simi Hamilton in the individual freestyle (skate) sprint. This event involves racing around a 1.5-kilometer track in three rounds of qualifying — inwhich the top two racers advance, plus the next two racers with the best times — culminating in the final, gold-medal round. NBC Daytime, from 2-4 pm, will show race highlights.
Abbott skates again in the men’s competition, with a short program on Thursday and the free program on Friday. NBC Sports covers both events in full beginning at 8 am; NBC Primetime airs the event during its Olympic coverage from 7–10 pm.
Also on Valentine’s Day, Hoffman competes in the 15-kilometer classic race, for which no television coverage is planned.
But you will be able to see Hoffman in the men’s 4x10K team relay on Sunday, during NBC Daytime programming from 2-5 pm. The race involves four team members each skiing 10 kilometers, two on classic skis and two on skate.
Tuesday, February 18
Men’s ski halfpipe debuts in the Olympics this year and features 18-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace, a product and prodigy of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. The judged competition includes a qualifying and final round, with two runs per athlete in each round. Check out the inaugural Olympic ski halfpipe event on NBC Primetime between 7–10 pm.
Wednesday, February 19
The next day, Hamilton races in his second event of this Olympics, the team classic sprint. Run as a relay, the team sprint involves two skiers taking turns to complete 1.5-kilometer legs three times each. The top five finishers in each semifinal round advance to the final, with the first team to cross the finish line after six legs wins.
Sunday, February 23
The final Olympic event in which an Aspen athlete is participating takes place not he final day of the 22nd Winter Olympiad. Hoffman competes in the 50-kilometer free (skate) event, the longest of the Olympic races.
In addition to NBC’s TV coverage, the network is for the first time in Olympic history showing some live coverage of events online. You need to be a current TV subscriber to access the live coverage, but the website also features highlight videos after the fact. The official website of the Sochi Olympics includes everything you want to know about the Games, such as schedules, results, sport background, and athlete information.