On your marks, get set … Winter Olympics begin tonight!

By the time the 23rd Olympic Winter Games get around to their Opening Ceremony on Friday, hundreds of athletes will already have been in action for a day and a half, starting Wednesday night with a new version of the ice chess otherwise known as curling.

The pomp and pageantry of the official Opening Ceremony won’t get under way in PyeongChang, South Korea, until 6 a.m. ET Friday. But by daybreak Thursday ET, the brooms will already have been out for eight games of mixed doubles curling; men’s ski jumping will also be well under way by dawn. Meanwhile, one of the most popular events, figure skating, glides into action Thursday night.


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Olympic athletes arrive in PyeongChang to brutally cold temperatures2:20

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On your marks, get set … Winter Olympics begin tonight!
On your marks, get set … Winter Olympics begin tonight!

You’ll need a program to identify everyone, because athletes and spectators will be bundled up against the more than suitably wintry weather in PyeongChang, where temperatures this week have plunged well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

“If you show up at PyeongChang with one measly hand warmer, you’re severely underestimating how cold it gets here,” said Choi Su-gyeong, a local government employee who grew up in PyeongChang, according to the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.

Related: How to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics

Choi advised visitors to layer on scarves and heat packs down to their toes.

“The part of the face that gets the coldest is the ears. If your ears have ever been in agony in the winter wind, you can probably relate to this,” she said.

Image: Noriaki KasaiImage: Noriaki Kasai

Ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan , known as The Legend, is competing in his eighth Winter Olympiad, a record.Kerstin Joensson / AP file

Men’s individual normal hill ski jumping, which takes off with qualifying at 7:30 a.m. ET Friday, will feature one of the stars of the Games, three-time medalist Noriaki Kasai of Japan. At 45, Kasai — known as The Legend — is taking part in an unprecedented eighth Winter Olympiad.

“It’s an amazing record,” Kasai told The Japan Times. “I’m really excited. My goal is the same every time, and it’s to win a gold medal.”

“I’m exhausted from thinking too much,” he said. “There’s no point in thinking about it, so I’m just trying not to overthink.”

NBC is airing 176 hours of live coverage in the United States, concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Feb. 25. NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, meanwhile, will stream more than 1,800 hours of coverage.

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