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Preview: Minnesotans head to Sochi for Winter Olympics

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The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will commence Friday at precisely 11:14 a.m. Central Time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spent $50 billion (U.S. dollars) on the Olympics, so expectations for Opening Ceremony are very high, according to Bleacher Report. 19 Minnesotans earned their way to the Olympics, and all of them, with the exception of the National Hockey League players, will be in attendance for the Opening Ceremony.

  • David Backes – Ice Hockey, Minneapolis
  • Jessie Diggins – Cross-Country Skiing, Afton
  • Justin Faulk – Ice Hockey, South St. Paul
  • Jeff Isaacson – Curling, Lakeland
  • John Landsteiner – Curling, Mapleton
  • Paul Martin – Ice Hockey, Elk River
  • Gigi Marvin – Ice Hockey, Warroad
  • Ryan McDonagh – Ice Hockey, St. Paul
  • Leif Nordgren – Biathlon, Marine on St. Croix
  • T.J. Oshie – Ice Hockey, Warroad
  • Zach Parise – Ice Hockey, Minneapolis
  • Allison Pottinger – Curling, Eden Prairie
  • Anna Ringsred – Speedskating, Duluth
  • Anne Schleper – Ice Hockey, St. Cloud
  • John Shuster – Curling, Chisholm
  • Lee Stecklein – Ice Hockey, Roseville
  • Derek Stepan – Ice Hockey, Hastings
  • Blake Wheeler – Ice Hockey, Robbinsdale
  • Jared Zezel – Curling, Hibbing

The Star Tribune profiled each Minnesota Olympian. Their profiles will be updated throughout the games.

Twin Cities Daily Planet reported some fun facts about the Olympics. Standing at a height of 6-foot-5, former Gophers hockey star Blake Wheeler is the tallest American athlete. In addition, former Gophers hockey stars Phil and Amanda Kessel are among a group of six siblings participating in the same sport.

According to the Star Tribune, Kessel is joined by fellow Gopher hockey alumnae Gigi Marvin, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein and Megan Bozek on the U.S. women's ice hockey team. Marvin, a former Miss Hockey winner from Warroad, played on the 2010 team, too.

As Rachel Blount reported, many Minnesotans are participating in Sochi as non-athletes. The jobs of the three Minnesotans Blount caught up with include a television analyst for curling, a women's hockey official and a figure skating choreographer.

CBS Sports has a list of the biggest story lines of the Winter Olympics. A developing concern is that stray dogs are being killed off in Sochi, according to ABC News. Yahoo Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson tweeted about his experience.

Here's a full schedule of when each sport will be in competition. Figure skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding actually begin with qualification rounds and short programs on Thursday, one day before the Opening Ceremony.

The United States, Germany and Canada finished atop of the medal standings at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The U.S. finished with 37 medals, Germany 30 and Canada 26.

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