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Olympics preview: Bobsledding begins!

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Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images

Bobsled finally gets underway in Sochi on Feb. 16, with the start of the two-man competition at 11:15 a.m. ET. The first two heats livestream on NBCOlympics.com before making NBC’s primetime coverage. Medals will be handed out Feb. 17, after heats 3 and 4.

Steven Holcomb — who’ll also be defending his gold in the four-man competition that starts Feb. 22 — will be first down the track in USA-1 with Steven Langton. (The Jamaican team is 28th in the start order.) Why is bobsled good TV? “It comes down to hundredths of a second. You can watch and think, ‘Oh, this team’s going really fast,’ and they’re not. Or vice versa: You’re like, ‘Oh, this team is about to crash, they’re all over the place,’ and they come across the line and they’re winning,” Holcomb told EW at a Team USA event last fall. “It’s a very intense sport. Everyone likes speed. People like racing. Plus, like NASCAR, everybody likes the crashes; that’s what people want to see. You don’t tune in to watch cars go in circles — you want to see those crashes.”

Ask Holcomb — whose four-man “Night Train 2” crew includes Langton, Chris Fogt, and Curtis Tomasevicz — what he’s hoping you don’t see on TV, and he has an answer for that, too: “This happens all the time, and I try really hard to minimize it, but you get to the bottom of the track and pull your helmet off, and you always have this weird, stretched-out, awkward look on your face — like it’s pulling your skin off. They’re really tight helmets,” he said, laughing. “I’ve gotten aware of it because I’ve watched a race on TV. So now when I see the camera, I’ll turn around to take my helmet off.”

Check out the full bobsled schedule below (all events will livestream on NBCOlympics.com, check TV listings).

Feb. 16

11:15 a.m. ET Two-man Heat 1

12:50 p.m. ET Two-man Heat 2

Feb. 17

9:30 a.m. ET Two-man Heat 3

11:05 a.m. ET Two-man Heat 4 (medals)

Feb. 18

10:15 a.m. ET Women’s Heat 1

11:20 a.m. ET Women’s Heat 2

Feb. 19

11:15 a.m. ET Women’s Heat 3

12:25 p.m. ET Women’s Heat 4 (medals)

Feb. 22

11:30 a.m. ET Four-man Heat 1

1 p.m. ET Four-man Heat 2

Feb. 23

4:30 a.m. ET Four-man Heat 3

6:00 a.m. ET Four-man Heat 4 (medals)