Let the games begin: Early start Thursday in 4 Sochi Olympics events before opening ceremony

The Associated Press

Canada's Patrick Chan goes through his routine during a figure skating practice at the 2014 Winter Olympics Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Competition at the Sochi Olympics has begun, 32 hours before the opening ceremony.

Early starts are needed because of 12 men's and women's medal events added since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying runs — without American star Shaun White, who withdrew Wednesday — got underway Thursday 10 a.m. (0600 GMT) at X-Treme Park in the mountains above Sochi.

Women's qualifying runs were following in the afternoon, and women's moguls qualifying was scheduled to start freestyle skiing events at 6 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Men's slopestyle and women's moguls are among the first medals to be awarded Saturday.

Down in Sochi, the new team figure skating competition begins 7.30 p.m. (1530 GMT) at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

The men's short program is to be followed by the pairs.

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