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Daily Olympic Briefing: Competition begins Wednesday morning with mixed doubles curling

Daily Olympic Briefing: Competition begins Wednesday morning with mixed doubles curling
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 18:04:32-05

Each day of the 2022 Winter Games, NBC Olympics will run down every sport in action, highlighting the biggest athletes and marquee events. Every single event streams live on NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, and many are also on the TV networks of NBC. Visit the Olympic schedule page for listings sorted by sport and TV network.

Welcome to the Daily Olympic Briefing, a morning (or early afternoon) lookahead to the upcoming action at the Beijing Winter Games. We’ll hit all the nuts and bolts: start times, TV schedules and live stream links for every medal event that day, plus significant preliminary competition.

We’ll also strive to provide regular original reporting, shining a spotlight on key athletes and storylines as the Games go on.

With China being 11 hours ahead of Eastern time, the majority of competition will happen between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. ET.

A separate NBCOlympics.com story each morning will recap what happens overnight. The Daily Briefing will be a primer on what’s to come.

Let’s get started.

All times listed below are Eastern Time on the morning of Wednesday, February 2.

Curling

Mixed Doubles Curling: Round Robin
All events will also stream live on Peacock
Matchup Time (ET) How to Watch
USA vs Australia 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Sweden vs Great Britain 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
Norway vs Czech Republic 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com
China vs Switzerland 7:00 a.m. NBCOlympics.com

The 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics shifted the start of competition to the day before the Opening Ceremony. In Beijing, action starts two days before the flame is lit.

The first session of mixed doubles curling is Wednesday night in Beijing, which means early Wednesday morning in the U.S.

The curling venue, the Ice Cube, is familiar. It’s the same arena where Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, when it was called the Water Cube.

Americans Vicky Persinger and Chris Plys face Australia in a matchup that was in danger of not happening a few days ago.

Australian curlers Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt isolated in China last weekend after Tahli tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the Beijing airport.

Tahli tested negative on Sunday and Monday to meet the standard to compete. Wednesday marks Australia’s Olympic debut in curling as a medal sport.

It will also be a significant day for the Americans. Persinger, a 29-year-old from Alaska, makes her Olympic debut after being on the runner-up women’s team at the last two trials.

Plys returns to the Olympics for the first time since his debut 12 years ago, when he was called up as an alternate to skip a struggling men’s team.

Plys will be the busiest athlete on the entire 220-plus member U.S. Olympic team. He qualified in both mixed doubles and the men’s team event in curling. That means he will likely play in at least 18 games, totaling more than 40 hours of competition.

Back in Duluth, Minnesota, his mom, Laura, plotted sleep schedules and watch parties with coffee, doughnuts and balloons.

Twelve years ago, the Plys family traveled to watch Chris at the Vancouver Games. Laura jokes that her husband and Chris’ father, Patrick, got the most TV time of any Plys.

Patrick was the face-painted, flag-waving, cowbell-ringing cheerleader in the crowd. He had started battling brain cancer 15 years earlier.

In 2010, “We thought he had beat his cancer,” Laura said. “And it was kind of a big celebration trip for us to just be able to go there and participate.”

Two months after those Olympics, they learned that Patrick’s cancer returned, and he suffered a stroke during surgery. He had to relearn basic life functions, including speech.

Chris, the oldest of five kids who learned to curl along with their dad, was 22 at the time.

“Chris sat in the room and basically took Patrick’s work binder and started working and took over the business and made sure things kept running while he was in recovery,” Laura said, referencing Patrick’s food brokerage company, which Chris still runs.

In 2011, Patrick checked off a bucket list item, cycling the 1,300 miles around Lake Superior. He did it on a tandem bike with a brother-in-law.

Patrick Plys died on Jan. 6, 2012, at age 48.

Lake Superior is special to many in Duluth, and in particular the Plys family.

In 2018, Chris was on a bike along the lake when he received a call from childhood friend Matt Hamilton, asking him to join John Shuster’s Olympic gold-medal team after Tyler George’s retirement.

In the event Plys is shown in short sleeves on TV over the next three weeks, check out his left arm, just above the elbow. One of his tattoos is a recreation of a photo of his dad teaching him how to ride a bike.

When Plys' loved ones saw him qualify for the Olympics at trials last fall, they joked that cowbells were ringing in heaven. He called going back to the Games a full circle experience.

“[Chris] has a little bit of thinking about that time with his dad and just wanting to get back there on his own,” Laura said. “He kind of had to grow up fast, but he still managed to keep his love of curling and his determination to get back to the Olympics.”