Day 5 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

By Aditi Sangal, Helen Regan, Adam Renton, George Ramsay, Ben Church and Patrick Sung, CNN

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022
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4:44 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Lindsey Jacobellis wins women's snowboard cross to clinch Team USA's first gold of Beijing 2022

Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States celebrates after winning gold at the women's snowboard cross big final on Wednesday.
Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States celebrates after winning gold at the women's snowboard cross big final on Wednesday. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Sports/Reuters)

Team USA's Lindsey Jacobellis won the women's snowboard cross competition Wednesday, finally claiming an elusive gold medal in her fifth Olympics.

It's the first gold medal for the United States at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

In the 2006 Turin Games, Jacobellis had the gold medal in the bag when she went for a flashy move on a jump and then fell. She finished with the silver.

The 36-year-old, who has been chasing gold since then, beat France's Chloe Trespeuch, who took silver, and Canada's Meryeta O'Dine who earned bronze.

According to sports data site Gracenote, Jacobellis is the second US athlete to win a Winter Olympics medal at least 16 years after her first.

7:29 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Belarusian skier Darya Dolidovich flees to Poland after being barred from competing in Olympics 

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie and Mayumi Maruyama

Belarusian cross-country skier Darya Dolidovich poses in this handout picture taken in Kirovsk, Russia, November, 2021
Belarusian cross-country skier Darya Dolidovich poses in this handout picture taken in Kirovsk, Russia, November, 2021 (Sergei Dolidovich/Handout/Reuters)

Belarusian skier Darya Dolidovich has fled her home country after being barred from competing in the Winter Olympics over accusations regarding her involvement with the country’s opposition movement. 

The 17-year-old cross-country skier's International Ski Federation (FIS) code -- which is required for athletes to compete in events run by the governing body -- was changed to "not active" approximately three weeks ago. It followed a decision from the Belarus Ski Union, according to Reuters.

Dolidovich told Reuters in December that the ban -- which precluded her from competing in the Beijing Winter Games -- came after sports officials accused her of "supporting" the country's opposition.

CNN has reached out to the Belarus Ski Union and the Belarus Cross-Country Skiing Federation for comment on Dolidovich's case.

In a statement to CNN, the FIS said: "FIS has reached out to the Belarus Ski Association to ask the reason why the status was changed, but has not yet received an update."

Family flees: Her coach and father, Sergei Dolidovich, is a seven-time Olympian who has spoken out publicly against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime and took part in street protests following the disputed presidential election in August 2020, which opposition groups say was marred by fraud.

Darya confirmed that her family had relocated to Poland during a video interview with Reuters Wednesday. 

“I couldn't have imagined, even in a nightmare, that I would end up leaving my country three-four months ago. It feels like tomorrow I'll take the plane or car back,” the 17-year-old said. 

Her father told Reuters the family had been targeted over their political views, and that his daughter had been “stripped” of her right to compete. 

Some background: Dolidovich is one of several Belarusian athletes who have been banned from competing or forced to flee the country in the past year, due to their criticism of sporting authorities or Lukashenko's regime. 

Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya received a humanitarian visa from Poland in August, following her abrupt departure from the Tokyo Summer Olympics after she said team officials tried to forcibly send her home over her public criticism of national sporting authorities. 

2:28 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Disqualified Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi says sorry for suit violation

From CNN's Emiko Jozuka

Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi is dejected after her final-round jump during the mixed team event on Monday.
Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi is dejected after her final-round jump during the mixed team event on Monday. (Yutaka/Aflo/Reuters)

Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi issued an apology on Tuesday for a suit violation that dashed Japan’s hopes of a medal in Monday’s Olympic mixed team ski jumping event.

Takanashi recorded a huge jump of 103 meters to launch Japan’s campaign as the mixed event debuted at the Beijing Games.

But her hopes of medaling were quashed when she was disqualified as her suit was 2 centimeters wider than permitted around her thighs, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

“I am very sorry that the chance of winning a medal has been taken away from the Japanese team,” Takanashi posted on Instagram.
“It is an undeniable fact that my disqualification changed everyone’s lives. Even if I apologize the medal will not be returned.”

Austria, Germany, and Norway also suffered disqualifications on Monday due to suit violations.

Slovenia won the gold, while the Russian Olympic Committee claimed silver and Canada took bronze. Japan finished fourth at the Zhangjiakou National Ski Jumping Center.

2:11 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

USA's Colby Stevenson says it was a "total miracle" to get on the podium

Silver medalist Colby Stevenson of the United States clinched silver in the men's freestyle skiing big air final on Wednesday.
Silver medalist Colby Stevenson of the United States clinched silver in the men's freestyle skiing big air final on Wednesday. (Ashley Landis/AP)

After claiming silver in the men’s freeski big air, US skier Colby Stevenson said it was "all so unexpected."

"It is a total miracle for me to get on the podium today. I was just thinking of my friends and family screaming at the TV, so I am happy I was able to perform for them," he said.

Stevenson said he tried to not let the pressure get to him, knowing his medal hopes rested on his final jump.

“There was a lot going through my mind. I was trying to decide which trick I was going to do," he said. “I was doing a good job of not overthinking the situation and the world stage I was on.” 

Car crash recovery: The 24-year-old has had a long journey to overcome a near-fatal car accident six years ago, in which he sustained a fractured skull, ribs, an eye socket, jaw and neck.

“I feel like everything happens for a reason. I think it is a good way to look at life and to think positively and come out of dark times like that," he said.
"Each day I try to focus on the little things in life. It helps me stay in the moment and be grateful for the little things. Out here today, it was the same kind of mentality. I was focusing on the beauty of where we were and being with my friends in such an amazing venue. It helps you ski your best when all of these outside things are not clouding your thoughts. It’s just important to focus on the things you do have. And that helps you ski your best.”
2:06 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Norway's Birk Ruud says his late father was "with me" during gold medal win

Birk Ruud flies the flag for Norway after winning gold in the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final Wednesday.
Birk Ruud flies the flag for Norway after winning gold in the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final Wednesday. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Following his gold medal win in the men's freeski big air, Birk Ruud showed the cameras a bracelet he was wearing during the competition.

The 21-year-old told reporters after the event that the bracelet was from his father, who died of cancer last April.

"I just wanted to say thank you to him. He is with me and my family as well," Ruud said, touching his heart.

"I think he would be happy. He never cared about results, he cared about me being happy. If he saw me now, being happy, achieving my goals then he would be really happy. And I would be happy to see him happy."

Ruud, who clinched the gold in his Winter Olympics debut, said he had dreamed of this moment since he was 13. "I just had to focus on my skiing and put down those tricks. I am really proud of myself that I was able to do those," he said.

Flag bearer: Knowing he had already won the gold before his final jump, Ruud carried his country's flag as he completed the jump.

“I didn’t know we had that flag. I wanted to put on a good show for Norway and everybody. There is a lot of stuff happening in the world, so to be able to put on a good show for the people is what I wanted to do. I am very happy about that," he said.
1:59 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova wins gold in the women's slalom

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova competes in the women's slalom on Wednesday.
Slovakia's Petra Vlhova competes in the women's slalom on Wednesday. (Alessandro Trovati/AP)

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova won gold in the women's slalom on Wednesday, claiming her first Olympic medal.

Austria's Katharina Liensberger won silver and Switzerland's Wendy Holdener took bronze.

US skier Mikaela Shiffrin was eliminated after missing a gate in her first run, and new giant slalom champion Sara Hector of Sweden crashed out on her second run.

1:28 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Shaun White keeps Olympic dream alive by qualifying for halfpipe finals

Team USA's Shaun White was visibly relieved after nailing his second run in the halfpipe qualification on Wednesday.
Team USA's Shaun White was visibly relieved after nailing his second run in the halfpipe qualification on Wednesday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

After crashing out on his first effort, US snowboarding legend Shaun White laid down a strong second run in the men's halfpipe competition, with a score of 86.25.

That blistering second run puts White in fourth on the leaderboard and guarantees him a spot in the finals on Thursday, where he is aiming for a fourth Olympic gold.

He joins 11 others, including Japan's Ayumu Hirano who leads the field, and Australia's Scotty James in second.

1:20 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Analysis: Athletes are criticizing Covid measures in the Olympic bubble. That's just daily life for many in China

Analysis from CNN's Jessie Yeung in Hong Kong

An Olympic worker wheels suitcases onto a media transportation bus at the Beijing airport on February 2, ahead of the Winter Olympics.
An Olympic worker wheels suitcases onto a media transportation bus at the Beijing airport on February 2, ahead of the Winter Olympics.

Many athletes from Western countries were stunned by the stringent Covid-19 restrictions they met upon arrival in Beijing for the Winter Olympics in recent weeks. Some were placed in isolation for weeks after testing positive, while others complained about the bland food served in quarantine.

The measures were a violation of human rights, one Finnish coach argued. But for 1.4 billion people across China, the conditions inside the Olympic bubble present something of a microcosm of the country during the pandemic.

China is one of the few places still adhering to a strict zero-Covid approach, whereby snap lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing and tight border restrictions are deployed in a bid to stamp out all traces of the disease.

New variants and increasingly frequent outbreaks have raised questions about how sustainable this strategy is. But with thousands of athletes and support staff flying in from around the world — many from countries still seeing high cases after deciding to "live with Covid" — Beijing is taking no chances.

The contrast could not be more stark: Athletes coming from places like the United States, where the effectiveness of face masks is still debated, are now facing daily Covid tests inside the "closed loop" that separates Olympic participants from the rest of the capital.

Some of the measures are merely an inconvenience. For instance, athletes must wear plastic gloves when loading up their plates at the cafeteria. When one CNN reporter ordered steak at a hotel, she was told it could only be served well done — cooked so dry it looked like jerky — as a Covid precaution.

But other measures have taken a heavier toll: More than 160 athletes or team officials have tested positive for Covid and been placed into isolation, with several forced to miss their competitions — a devastating blow for those who have spent years training for this moment. They aren't allowed to return to the bubble until all symptoms disappear and they return two consecutive negative test results.

Editor's Note: A version of this post appeared in CNN's Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world. Sign up here.

8:41 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

US snowboarder Chloe Kim is through to the halfpipe finals

American snowboarder Chloe Kim competes in the halfpipe qualification round on Wednesday.
American snowboarder Chloe Kim competes in the halfpipe qualification round on Wednesday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Snowboarding phenomenon Chloe Kim qualified for the finals of the women's halfpipe competition on Wednesday.

She landed a cab 900 and a switch backside 500 in her first run, scoring 87.75 — putting her top of the leaderboard. Kim fell on her second run.

Kim joins 11 others in the finals, including Japan's Mitsuki Ono and China's Cai Xuetong.

At 21, Kim already boasts five X Games gold medals, two world championships and, four years ago in Pyeongchang, announced herself to the world with a near-perfect score to win her first Winter Olympic gold medal at age 17.

But Kim admitted she struggled to deal with the fame that came with her success. When she attended Princeton University afterward, "everyone was kind of staring at me, taking pictures," she told CNN in 2021.

After taking a break from competitive snowboarding while at Princeton, Kim is now hungrier than ever to get back on the Olympic slopes and defend her crown.

Read more about Chloe Kim's Olympic campaign here.