The Winter Olympics opening ceremonies don’t kick off until Friday night, but already competition has begun in Sochi.
With 12 new men's and women's medal events added to the Games since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, competition had to get underway today in order to ensure that all events are completed before the games wrap up on Feb. 23.
Qualifying runs for men's snowboard slopestyle began at 10 a.m. local time Thursday, while women’s qualifying runs will follow in the afternoon. Women's moguls and freestyle skiing qualifying events are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
The new team figure skating competition begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Iceberg Skating Palace in the town of Sochi, with the men's short program followed by the pairs.
With all these early starts, the first medals – including men's slopestyle and women's moguls -- will be awarded Saturday.
The official opening ceremonies will take place Friday night at the Fisht Olympic Stadium before 40,000 spectators.
Details of what viewers can expect at the ceremonies have remained tightly under wraps, but the ceremony is typically a chance for the host country to showcase their culture, music and dance, as well as this Games’ motto, which this year is: “Hot, Cool, Yours.”
Hockey superstar Hayley Wickenheiser will have the honour of carrying the Canadian flag into the stadium during the Parade of Nations .
The torch carrying the Olympic flame, which was lit at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece back in September, will then enter the stadium. The torch, which was carried over 65,000 kilometres in Russia and even went to the International Space Station back in November, arrived in Sochi this week after the longest relay in Olympic history.