Five to Watch: Opening Ceremony, First Medals Handed Out

Take a look at some of the most talked about moments from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony.

(Published Friday, Feb. 9, 2018)

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The Winter Olympics officially started in South Korea Friday with the Opening Ceremony at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium and the first Philadelphia-area athletes competing.

As the Games get underway, here’s what you need to watch.

Opening Ceremony Expresses Hopes for Peace

Competition has already begun in curling, luge and a few other sports in Pyeongchang, but the 2018 Winter Games got off to their spectacular start with the Opening Ceremony, which was televised on NBC10 Friday night. Expect the showiness, glitter and splendor of past Olympic productions wrapped around a theme of peace.

Opening Ceremony in Photos: Flags, Fireworks, Tiger Puppet

The ceremony reveals the pain of the divided Koreas but also their people’s hope for peace, according to organizers. The director of the opening ceremony, Yang Jung-woong, describes it as a winter fairy tale seen as a dream in which children find peace through adventure.

"Peace is the most important message, as we are the only divided country in the world," said Song Seung-whan, the general director of the opening and closing ceremonies, according to Nikkei Asian Review. "We want to let the world know about the pain of division and our desire for peace."

For the Koreas, unity was the motif. Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, an increasingly influential figure, is the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the South and she sat in the VIP section. She shook hands with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in while they watched the elaborate show.

How to Eat Like an Olympian in South Korea

But it was a different story for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who attended with his wife, Karen. He did not interact with Kim Yo Jong, nor did he stand when the unified Korean team entered the stadium to cheers. And accompanying Pence in South Korea is Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea and returned home in a coma.

Early in the ceremony, a puppet tiger danced with children through mountains. During the Parade of Nations, countries entered the stadium to K-Pop music — the United States entering to Psy’s "Gangnam Style." Tonga’s flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, once again appeared shirtless and oiled up, as he had in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Later, a group of Korean musicians sang a cover version of John Lennon’s “Imagine."

Opening Ceremony Stars: South Korea’s Yuna Kim, U.S.’s Erin Hamlin

The highlight of the ceremony remained a secret until the end: the final torch bearer to the light of Olympic cauldron was revealed to be Yuna Kim, a retired figure skater and South Korean superstar. Kim became the first South Korean to win a gold medal in figure skating at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Four years later in Sochi, hoping to become only the third woman to defend her gold medal, she placed second behind Russian Adelina Sotnikova.

Kim Yu-na, South Korean Figure Skater lights the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Getty

Kim retired from competition and became a goodwill ambassador to promote the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Luger Erin Hamlin led the U.S. contingent. The 31-year-old from New York, competing in her fourth and likely last Olympics, was named the team’s flag bearer on Wednesday. She won a bronze medal in singles luge in Sochi, the first American to ever medal in the event.

USA's flagbearer Erin Hamlin leads her delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on Feb. 9, 2018. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

Her moment also came with controversy. She won the honor over speedster Shani Davis - he claimed by a coin toss. “@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018,” Davis tweeted.

Davis did not attend the ceremony.

Curling Round Robin Features American Siblings Known as #HamFam on Twitter

Brother and sister duo Matt and Becca Hamilton of Wisconsin continue their quest for a medal in the Olympics’ first ever mixed doubles curling competition.

The siblings had not played together until about three years ago when they joined up in anticipation of the inaugural mixed doubles event. Both have been curling for more than 10 years and though they had different coaches, they spent every day on the ice together after school.

The Hamiltons beat a team of Russian athletes in their opening match on Thursday before losing to Canada, Switzerland and South Korea. They lost to China before rebounding with a 10-3 win over Norway Saturday.

The Hamiltons also will represent the United States in the men’s and women’s curling events that are to begin on Feb. 14.

New Jersey-Born Speedskater Highlights Philly-Area Athletes Competing for Medals

Carlijn Schoutens took to the speedskating oval Saturday morning in the Women's 3,000m. Schoutens was born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Dutch parents who were working at Princeton University. She bounced between the U.S. and Netherlands as a youngster before she settled in Salt Lake City more than three years ago to focus on her skating.

Carlijn Schoutens competes in the Ladies 1500 meter event during the Long Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials at the Pettit National Ice Center on January 6, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. See Larger Getty Images

She finished 22nd out of 24 skaters, failing to medal as the Dutch swept all three medals.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's John-Henry Krueger took to the ice in the Men's Short Track Speedskating 1,500m Saturday morning. He made his way through his heat to the semifinal where he was penalized and didn't advance.

South Korea's Lim Hyo-Jun would win gold in the event.

And the Gold Goes to…

Who will win Pyeongchang’s first gold medal? Medals were awarded in five events on Saturday in South Korea, including events in biathlon, cross country and ski jump, speedskating and short-track speedskating.

The Star Spangled Banner didn't play in Pyeongchang on Saturday. Americans weren’t the favorite in any of the events.

Women’s biathlon, women’s 7.5 kilometer sprint:

Germany's Laura Dahlmeier won gold.

Women’s cross-country skiing, 7.5 kilometer plus 7.5 kilometer skiathlon

Sweden's Charlotte Kalla took home gold.

Men’s ski jumping, normal hill

Germany's Andreas Wellinger won gold.