Welcome to our morning update.

While you slept: Believe it or not, the Olympics began Wednesday night — almost two days before the Opening Ceremony will be broadcast on NBC -- with a series of mountain qualification and training events, including the men's slopestyle.

The new event that lost its biggest name Wednesday when Shaun White withdrew. The two-time Olympic champion, who injured his wrist practicing on the treacherous course, will focus instead on winning his third consecutive gold in the halfpipe.

White's absence creates an opportunity for Truckee's Chas Guldemond, who moved to the Lake Tahoe area from New Hampshire nearly a decade ago. Guldemond posted a score of 86.00 in qualification. The score was good enough for a spot in the semifinals, which will be held Saturday morning.

Guldemond wasn't the only Northern California Olympian in action Wednesday night.

South Lake Tahoe's Jamie Anderson and truckee's Karly Shorr qualified for the women's slopestyle finals. Anderson's score of 93.50 was the second-best qualifying mark behind Austria's Anna Gasser. Shorr (84.75) finished fourth in her heat and sixth overall.

The finals are Sunday morning.

On tap this morning: Team figure skating (a new event) begins with the men's short program at 7:30 a.m. and the pair's short at 9:10 a.m. (Both will be televised on a delayed basis Thursday night by NBC.)

The competition works like gymnastics: Teams are judged in a variety of disciplines, and those scores are combined to determine an overall winner.

The United States, Russia and Canada are medal favorites. The event concludes Sunday.

And on the mountain: this morning: Hannah Kearney, the 2010 Olympic moguls champion, begins the defense of her gold medal (qualification is scheduled to start at 6 a.m.).

Looking ahead: With the exception of training runs on the slopes, Friday is all about the Opening Ceremony.

The pomp and pageantry will feature the parade of nations, as always, and a look at Russian history and culture. The crowd will include a fair-to-middlin' group of world leaders. (Neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend.)

Programming note: The Opening Ceremony is the one event that NBC does not plan to stream live. The only opportunity to watch in the primetime, tape-delayed broadcast on the mother ship.

A flame lights the flame(?): Rumors swirled last week that the Olympic flame would be lit by 2004 rhythmic gymnastics gold medalist Alina Kabayeva, who just happens to be Vladimir Putin's lover (allegedly!).

Putin called the speculation "the usual red herrings," according to Agence France-Presse, and added that he would not be lighting the flame.

The best guess is that a famous Russian sports figure will have the honor.

Our rubles are on legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.