Games get early start in Sochi

SOCHI, Russia -- Competition at the Sochi Olympics has begun, starting Thursday 32 hours before the opening ceremony.

Early starts were 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 at 10 a.m. local time Thursday 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 off the freestyle skiing events at 6 p.m.

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

Down in Sochi, the new team figure skating competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

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