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Sochi day 1: Five things to watch

1. Artist(s) in residence: Like Olympic Village with its so-called Ring of Steel, details about Opening Ceremony remain heavily guarded. However, in the months leading up to the Games, some have emerged. For instance, it’s expected that the event will pay tribute to Russia’s rich cultural and artistic history (unsurprisingly a theme throughout Sochi—the press conference rooms are named after writers Tolstoy, Pushkin, Chekhov, and Dostoevsky), and many of the nation’s contemporary stars are expected to appear, including viola player Yuri Bashmet and conductor Valery Gergiev.

2. Big debut for a big architecture: The ceremonies will mark the first official use of the newly constructed Fisht Olympic Stadium. Though no sporting events will take place here during the Olympics, the 75,000-capacity venue will be heavily featured when soccer’s World Cup comes to Russia in 2018.

3. More construction: Stories of still-uncompleted buildings and construction snafus throughout Sochi have been a focus in the lead-up to the Games, and you can expect more during the Opening Ceremony—on stage. According to the Telegraph, set transitions on three separate stages will feature the construction of 15 buildings, six trains, and six bridges as time shifts from Imperial Russia to today. The same group in charge of the Opening Ceremony in London are involved in preparations for Friday’s event as well, and in December cost estimates for the event topped $40 million.

4. Waving flags: Of course, the real show in any Opening Ceremony is the Parade of Nations, when athletes from all competing countries march through the venue. Hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, in her sixth Olympics, will be Canada’s flag-bearer. Other notable flag-bearers include Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (Slovakia) and defending Super G gold medallist alpine skier Aksel Svindal (Norway). Bobsledder Alexander Zubkov will carry the flag for the host Russians.

5. Follow along: Sportsnet’s Michael Grange will be live-blogging throughout the Opening Ceremony.

Live in primetime (in Sochi): The event will take place at 8 p.m. local time, meaning it will be televised live at 11 a.m. ET Friday.