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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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.

8:42 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Shaun White fumbles first run on the halfpipe in his final Olympics

American snowboarder Shaun White makes a halfpipe qualification run on Wednesday.
American snowboarder Shaun White makes a halfpipe qualification run on Wednesday. (Andrew Milligan//PA Images/Reuters)

Snowboarding legend Shaun White fumbled a jump on his first run at the men's halfpipe qualifying competition on Wednesday, as he chases one last epic moment at his final Olympic Games.

He opened his run with 1080 jumps, before attempting his signature double cork 1260, a move he unveiled at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. However, he overbalanced on the landing and fell on the icy halfpipe, before skating down to the bottom.

White has one more run in the qualifying, which will determine who advances to the final.

An icon of the sport: Beijing is the 35-year-old's fifth Olympics, after he competed in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. When he hit the halfpipe on Wednesday, he became the oldest male halfpipe rider from any nation in the history of the Games — and he has the chance to become the sports' oldest Olympic champion.

Once dubbed the "Flying Tomato" because of his flowing red hair, White is one of the sport's most iconic figures. Even if he doesn't win gold, taking home any medal will make White — already a three-time gold medalist — the most decorated men's snowboarder ever.

Ahead of his competition, White said that he would retire after the Games, citing a spate of injuries.

"I won't be worried about some kind of competition," he told reporters last week. "I'll just purely be here to enjoy the resort, maybe check out other runs besides the halfpipe for once."

This post has been updated to show how many runs White has left in qualifying. It is one.

Take a look back at Shaun White's illustrious career.

12:07 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

American freeskier Colby Stevenson just won silver in the big air. He nearly died in a car crash 6 years ago

US freestyle skier Colby Stevenson won the silver medal during the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final on Wednesday.
US freestyle skier Colby Stevenson won the silver medal during the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final on Wednesday. (Harry How/Getty Images)

US freestyle skier Colby Stevenson nearly died in a car accident six years ago. On Wednesday, he won silver at the men's freeski big air competition — his Olympic debut.

Stevenson, 24, suffered a fractured skull, ribs, an eye socket, jaw and neck in his 2016 accident. He underwent two major surgeries, and doctors at the time weren’t sure if he would walk out of the hospital.

But five months after the crash, he was back on skis, according to the official Olympics site. He still faced pain and a long recovery ahead — but he was able to return to competition in 2017. He missed the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang because of a torn muscle in his shoulder.

“I’ve never been in such a grateful state and just so full of love, I guess, for the sport," he told the official Olympics site.  
“I think that was the secret in the end for me, just doing it out of love rather than trying to win or to make money to pay for my travels and all the other stressors that weighed on me before the crash.”
12:02 a.m. ET, February 9, 2022

Norway's Birk Ruud wins gold in men's freeski big air

Norway's Birk Ruud performs a trick during the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final with the Norwegian flag in his hand on Wednesday.
Norway's Birk Ruud performs a trick during the men's freestyle skiing freeski big air final with the Norwegian flag in his hand on Wednesday. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Norway's Birk Ruud won the men's freeski big air in the event's Winter Olympics debut on Wednesday with a score of 187.75.

Knowing he had already clinched the gold, the 21-year-old held the Norwegian flag in his hand as he completed his final jump.

Team USA's Colby Stevenson took silver with a score of 183 and Sweden's Henrik Harlaut won bronze.

10:54 p.m. ET, February 8, 2022

Beijing organizers reports 5 new Covid-19 cases among Games personnel

From CNN's Gawon Bae

The Beijing Olympic Committee identified five new Covid-19 cases among Olympics-related personnel on Tuesday, it said in a statement Wednesday.

Of the new cases, three were found among airport arrivals and two from people already inside the “closed loop” system, which keeps Olympic athletes, stakeholders and staff separate from the public.

Three of the new cases involved athletes or team officials, two of which were already inside the closed loop.

Since the closed loop system officially began on Jan. 23, 398 Olympics-related personnel and stakeholders have tested positive. Of those, 162 have involved athletes or team officials.

Covid in China: On Tuesday, China reported 73 local symptomatic cases — 72 in the southern region of Guangxi and 1 in northeastern Liaoning province, according to the National Health Commission.

The Guangxi cases were all found in the southwestern city of Baise. Authorities locked down the entire city on Monday, banning its 3.5 million residents from leaving their homes.

10:39 p.m. ET, February 8, 2022

Mikaela Shiffrin says she feels "pretty low right now" after slalom upset

Mikaela Shiffrin sits on the side of the course after skiing out in the first run of the women's slalom.
Mikaela Shiffrin sits on the side of the course after skiing out in the first run of the women's slalom. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

American ski star Mikaela Shiffrin said she's feeling "pretty awful" after tumbling out of the first run of the women's slalom.

"I was pushing out of the start. I had full intentions of skiing as hard as I could," she said, following the run.

"I slipped up a little bit on one turn and I just didn't give myself room to make any kind of error like that. I was planning to go on the most aggressive line, the most challenging line to ski."

Shiffrin said she knew that line was also the fastest: "I didn't make it past five gates, so I guess that's what happened," she added.

The two-time Olympic medalist said she is feeling "pretty awful."

"But it won't feel awful for ever. I just feel pretty low right now."

The two races Shiffrin skied out on — the giant slalom on Monday and the slalom today — are by far her favorite. They are known as “technical” races and were her best chances at a medal.

The 26-year-old — who was hoping to become the first US skier to win three medals at a single Games — is also scheduled for the upcoming speed races, the downhill and super-G.