The Paralympics in Pyeongchang begin Friday with the opening ceremony. Here are five questions leading into the Games, which continue through March 18:
How to watch?
NBC will provide more than 250 hours of coverage across all its platforms — NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
For Pyeongchang, NBC plans 94 hours of TV coverage, almost double what it had in Sochi.
Coverage begins with the opening ceremony at 6 a.m. ET Friday on NBCSN. Live competition coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday with the men’s and women’s downhill on the Olympic Channel. (See schedule below.)
Who are the U.S. stars?
Sochi bronze medalist Amy Purdy, who competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2014 after the Games, returns to women’s snowboard cross, along with world champion Brenna Huckaby, who makes her Paralympic debut. Huckaby is a favorite for gold in snowboard cross and banked slalom, which makes its Games debut in Pyeongchang.
In men’s snowboarding, the three U.S. men who swept the podium in 2014 all return. Evan Strong, Mike Shea and Keith Gabel seek to add to their medals from Sochi. All compete in the LL2 classification.
Mike Schultz, who wrapped up season titles last month in snowboard cross and banked slalom, is the U.S. flag bearer for the opening ceremony. Schultz’s company has designed prosthetics for several of his teammates on the snowboard team. He competes in the LL1 classification in both events.
In cross-country skiing and biathlon, Oksana Masters is a medal contender in six individual events. Masters is a four-time Paralympian who competed in rowing in 2012 and in cycling in 2016.
Alpine skier Laurie Stephens is the most decorated Paralympian on the team with six medals. She has competed on every Winter Paralympic team since 2006 along with sled hockey player Steve Cash and Alpine skiing teammate Tyler Walker.
Cash leads a U.S. sled hockey team that made history by winning back-to-back Paralympic golds in Sochi. The team has six players who served in the military, including forward Rico Roman, a gold medalist in 2014. Roman had his left leg amputated above the knee after being injured in an IED explosion while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2007. The U.S. team opens with a game against Japan on Sunday.
Who will win the medal count?
Host Russia won a whopping 80 medals at the 2014 Sochi Games with Ukraine coming in a distant second with 25 medals. Russia remains banned from the Paralympics following a decision in 2016 that barred the country from competing in the Rio Summer Paralympics because of a state-run doping system.
The International Paralympic Committee says 30 athletes from Russia will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutral athletes after being subjected to extra testing. That’s less than half of the 69 Paralympians who competed in Sochi.
The Russians won 32 medals in cross-country skiing in 2014, led by four apiece from Elena Remizova and Vladislav Lekomtsev. Neither are on the roster of Neutral Paralympic Athletes competing in the sport in Pyeongchang.
Germany has a five-medal threat in Anna Schaffelhuber, 25, who swept the golds in her five events in Sochi.
Ukraine is expected to win multiple medals in biathlon, having claimed 15 medals in the sport in 2014.
The U.S. won 18 medals in Sochi, led by two each won by Alpine skiers Mark Bathum, Stephanie Jallen and Stephens and Masters in cross country.
How will host South Korea fare?
The host country does not have a rich tradition in Paralympic winter sports. South Korean athletes failed to win a medal in Sochi. In fact the last time the country won a Paralympic Winter Games medal was in 2010, when its wheelchair curling team took silver, according to the International Paralympic Committee’s web site.
Sang Min Han won South Korea’s first winter medal, a silver in giant slalom back in 2002. The 38-year-old skier is back for Pyeongchang, his fourth Paralympics.
Perhaps South Korea’s best hope for a medal comes in sled hockey. The team won bronze at the 2017 world championships behind Canada and the United States.
Nordic skier Sin Eui-hyun seeks to become the first to win Paralympic gold. He won a World Cup biathlon event in Finland last month.
How many athletes will compete?
Organizers are touting Pyeongchang as the largest in Winter Paralympics history. The organizing committee says up to 670 athletes from 49 countries will compete in six sports. The United States has the largest team with 74 athletes, which includes six guides for visually impaired athletes.
North Korea, which had athletes competing in the Olympics after some late negotiations, will send two cross-country skiers to Pyeongchang. It’s the first time North Korean athletes have competed at the Winter Paralympics.
TV schedule (All times ET)
(Dates and times subject to change)
Friday, March 9
Opening ceremony (Live), 6 a.m., NBCSN
Alpine skiing, men's and women's downhill (Live), 7:30 p.m., Olympic Channel
Biathlon and Alpine skiing (Live), 11 p.m., NBCSN
Biathlon and Alpine skiing, 1 p.m., NBC
Alpine skiing, men's and women's Super-G (Live), 7:30 p.m., Olympic Channel
Sled hockey, U.S. vs. Japan; wheelchair curling (Live), 10 p.m., NBCSN
Cross-country skiing, men's standing/VI 20K free (Live), 9 p.m., Olympic Channel
Snowboarding, cross-country skiing, women's standing/VI 15K free, sled hockey (Live), 11:30 p.m., NBCSN
Sled hockey, U.S. vs. Czech Republic, wheelchair curling, snowboarding (encore), noon, NBCSN
Alpine skiing, biathlon, sled hockey (Live), 9 p.m., NBCSN
Sled hockey, wheelchair curling, 2 p.m., NBCSN
Wheelchair curling (Live), 8:30 p.m., Olympic Channel
Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, wheelchair curling (Live), midnight, NBCSN
Sled hockey playoffs, wheelchair curling, 2 p.m., NBCSN
Wheelchair curling (Live), 9 p.m., Olympic Channel
Alpine skiing, sled hockey semifinal (Live), 1 a.m., NBCSN
Sled hockey semifinal (encore), 2 p.m., NBCSN
Wheelchair curling, tiebreakers (Live), 9 p.m., Olympic Channel
Snowboarding, biathlon (Live), 1 a.m., NBCSN
Wheelchair curling semifinal, biathlon, Alpine skiing, sled hockey bronze-medal game (Live), 7 p.m., NBCSN
Wheelchair curling, gold-medal game (Live), 2 a.m., Olympic Channel
Cross-country skiing, sled hockey gold-medal game (Live), wheelchair curling gold-medal game, 8:30 p.m., NBCSN
Alpine skiing, women's giant slalom; cross-country skiing, open relay, noon, Olympic Channel
Sled hockey gold-medal game (encore), 4:30 p.m., NBCSN
Closing ceremony, 11:30 p.m., NBCSN
Highlight show, 1 p.m., NBC