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What to watch on Day 0 of Sochi Olympics

Sochi Olympics

Fireworks are seen as spectators arrive for the rehearsal of the opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

David Goldman

Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Friday, Feb. 7.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS ...

Opening Ceremony on NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT

Russia gets its chance to present itself to the world inside the recently completed Fisht Stadium and in front of a new International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.

Fisht Stadium’s name came from a nearby mountain, and its design was inspired by Russia’s jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs. The stadium has open sides, giving spectators a view of the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea.

The event will of course include the Parade of Nations, featuring a Winter Games record 88 countries. Greece customarily goes first with the rest marching in alphabetical order save the host nation, which goes last.

MORE: U.S. flag bearer is six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick.

One big question -- how large of a role will Vladimir Putin play? The Russian president arrived in Sochi on Tuesday.

The night climaxes with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron. The final torch bearer is always a closely guarded secret. It’s unknown if Russia will go the typical route and bestow the honor on a retired Olympian. If it does, six-time Olympic champion speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova, three-time Olympic champion pairs figure skater Irina Rodnina and three-time Olympic champion goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

WHAT ELSE TO KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Alpine skiing downhill training, 1 a.m. ET

Watch out for U.S. skiers Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso on the second day of downhill training at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort.

Miller, a five-time Olympian with five career medals, was fastest in the first training run Thursday and is set up well as a medal contender in Sunday’s race. Gold medal favorite Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal will look to bounce back after clocking the eighth-best time, 1.21 seconds behind Miller.

Mancuso, a four-time Olympian with three career medals, might just be turning it on for a major championship yet again. She was third fastest in Thursday’s delayed women’s opening training run. Mancuso has yet to make a World Cup podium this season, but she’s the reigning Olympic downhill silver medalist. Gold medal favorite Maria Hoefl-Riesch was sixth. They’ll race for medals on Wednesday.

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