East Central Illinois won't lack for rooting interests in Sochi. There's long-track speed skater Jonathan Kuck, whose ties include being a Champaign native, a graduate of Urbana University High and a closing-in-on-his-degree University of Illinois student. This is Kuck's second Games, and he'll be looking to add to his medal collection after winning silver in 2010 at Vancouver in the men's Team Pursuit. Kuck is scheduled to compete in the 5,000 meters on Saturday and in the 1,500 on Feb. 15.
Then there's Aja Evans, the best women's shot putter in University of Illinois history. Now, the Chicago native is putting all of her power into being a pusher for one of three U.S. women's entries in bobsled (or bobsleigh, which reminds us more of Santa and Rudolph than of Olympians). The women's bobsled is contested in a series of heats: the first two on Feb. 18 and two more on Feb. 19.
Sochi is 10 hours ahead of our time zone, so unless you're prepared to time-shift your life, most of what you'll see on TV will be tape-delayed.
Besides NBC's flagship network TV outlet (WAND, Channel 17 in our area), you also can tune in to NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC and CNBC to watch everything from A (alpine skiing) to S (speed skating). If a TV isn't handy, go online to NBCOlympics.com, which offers the live-time coverage some fans demand.
At 7 p.m. today, NBC debuts its prime-time coverage with snowboarding, freestyle skiing and figure skating. Rather than clutter this up with a bunch of varying starting and ending times, we'll direct you to this website: http://www.nbcolympics.com/tv-listings. Be sure to type in your zip code to see CST listings.
The site comes with this valuable reminder: "All listings subject to change."
You might want to move dinner time up a bit Friday. NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies begins at 6:30 p.m. CST.
In the interest of full disclosure, you won't be seeing the opening ceremonies live (remember the time difference from Sochi). And some folks are upset that NBC Universal, which could stream the opening ceremonies online in live time, has chosen not to.
Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, defends to decision to go TV only instead of also offering unvarnished online video: "We want to put context to it, with the full pageantry it deserves."
Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Bob Costas will be your on-air guides through the ceremonies along New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick, who is serving as a special correspondent for NBC Universal.