Thursday will provide a compact viewing window into the excellence in athletics that Minnesota has produced for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Of the 30 U.S. Olympians with Minnesota ties in Beijing, 25 will compete over 24 hours — in Central Standard Time — starting when the clock gently nudges Wednesday into the past as John Shuster, John Landsteiner and Chris Plys continue their gold medal defense in men's curling against Sweden at 12:05 a.m.
A little after 1 a.m., Jessie Diggins will once again strain to see what milliseconds she can shave off with the tip of her cross-country skis in the women's 10k classic.
It will still be inky dark in Minneapolis at 6:05 a.m. when Tabitha Peterson and Tara Peterson, with alternate Aileen Geving standing by, glide their rocks toward the hog line as they continue group play in women's curling against Denmark.
Right around sunrise, nine Minnesotans will make their Olympic debut. It took the NHL changing its mind at the last minute to get Noah Cates, Brock Faber, Drew Helleson, Sam Hentges, Matthew Knies, Ben Meyers, Aaron Ness, Nick Perbix and Nathan Smith onto Team USA for men's hockey — and in one of the most visible events of the Games, they will open competition against host China at 7:10 a.m.
Then, a lull. As we go about our workdays and responsibilities, the Olympics go on pause, as a new day begins on the other side of the world.
Team Shuster will be the first local athletes competing on Friday morning in Beijing — Thursday evening back home — facing Great Britain at 7:05 p.m.
And finally, one last monumental event. The nine Minnesotans on the U.S. women's hockey team will start play in the knockout rounds with a quarterfinal matchup against the Czech Republic at 10:10 p.m. For Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel, Abbey Murphy, Kelly Pannek, Maddie Rooney, Lee Stecklein and Grace Zumwinkle, the title defense of the U.S. gold medal starts in earnest.
The result should come in just a little past midnight, Friday morning.
One day will not define these Olympics or these athletes, and with the men's and women's hockey and curling tournaments running concurrently, there may be a few more days ahead with two dozen Minnesotans on the schedule. But Thursday is a reminder of the Minnesota-flavored talent on display in only 24 short hours.
Thursday's TV schedule for Minnesota's U.S. Olympians
12:05 a.m.: Men's curling vs. Sweden (streaming live on NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports app and Peacock; replay 9:30 a.m., USA Network)
1 a.m.: Women's cross-country skiing 10k classic (USA Network)
6:05 a.m.: Women's curling vs. Denmark (streaming live on NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports app, Peacock; replay 4 p.m., CNBC)
7:10 a.m.: Men's hockey vs. China (USA Network)
7:05 p.m.: Men's curling vs. Great Britain (CNBC)
10:10 p.m.: Women's hockey vs. Czech Republic (Ch. 11, USA Network)