Day 7 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

By Aditi Sangal, Matias Grez, Ben Church, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Patrick Sung, CNN

Updated 6:11 p.m. ET, February 11, 2022
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8:49 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022

Love in the time of Covid at Beijing 2022

Testing vials arranged to read "2022" and a heart shape, at a Covid-19 testing station inside the Beijing Olympic bubble.
Testing vials arranged to read "2022" and a heart shape, at a Covid-19 testing station inside the Beijing Olympic bubble. CNN

The mandatory daily Covid-19 test is usually the least pleasant part of the day for those inside Beijing's Olympic bubble.

But the experience turned into a moment of human connection for one CNN reporter, who showed up to the testing center to see a number of soon-to-be-used test vials arranged into the pattern of a heart and "2022."

It struck a contrast to previous days of testing, which felt sterile and impersonal, with volunteers and staff hidden behind layers of protective gear and face masks. When the reporter asked staff why they arranged the vials that way, they said they knew being tested daily was uncomfortable, and wanted to do something to make people feel more welcome.

When asked what the experience has been like for them so far, the staff responded that they missed their families — a sentiment our reporter could relate to. They pulled out their phones and showed each other photos of their families.

The demands of the bubble: The "closed loop" separates Olympic athletes, support staff, media and volunteers from the rest of the Beijing public — but the stringent requirements are exacting, with an especially high cost for Chinese volunteers.

The first batch of volunteers, including health care workers, drivers, cleaners and chefs, entered the bubble on Jan. 3 — and they're all required to stay until the Games end on Feb. 20. Once they leave the bubble, they must then undergo 21 days of strict quarantine at a designated facility.

That means they must spend more than two months away from family and had to miss Lunar New Year, which took place last week and is the biggest festival in China. It's the most important time for families to gather, likened by some to Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years combined.

1:59 a.m. ET, February 11, 2022

As the Olympics heat up, China clamps down on dissent

From CNN's Simone McCarthy, Selina Wang and Sandi Sidhu

As Winter Olympians vie for gold in Beijing, global attention has turned to events in the extensive Olympic "bubble" — a zone sealing off visiting athletes, media and participants from the rest of the host city to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

But in a different part of Beijing, prominent human rights activist Hu Jia is again living in another kind of bubble: what he says is a house arrest imposed by authorities who want him out of public view during the Games.

"They said Winter Olympics is a very important political event and no 'disharmonious voice' will be allowed — like any criticism of the Winter Olympics, or any talk related to human rights," said Hu, who spoke to CNN during what he describes as a weeks-long restriction to his home.

"In China, people like me are called 'domestic hostile forces'... that's why they have to cut me off from the outside world," said Hu, who gained international prominence as a champion of human rights in the early 2000s and was a friend to late Nobel Peace Prize winner and dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Hu says he has been restricted to his residence, with the exception of trips to care for his ailing mother, since Jan. 15. It's an escalation of the round-the-clock state surveillance Hu says he has been under for nearly two decades.

It's also treatment he has become used to during sensitive political events in China. Hu said he was originally told to leave Beijing altogether and relocate to Guangdong during the Olympic period but an outbreak of Covid-19 prevented him from going.

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8:11 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022

It's 9 a.m. in Beijing. Here's what's coming up on Day 7 of the 2022 Winter Olympics

It's Day 7 of the Winter Olympics, and some big names are headed to the slopes today with seven medal events scheduled. Here's what to watch for:

🏂 Megastar's last hurrah: Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shuan White, an icon of snowboarding, is shooting for one last gold medal at the halfpipe today as he prepares to retire after the Beijing Olympics. The American faces competition from Japan's Ayumu Hirano, who led the way in the qualifying — beating out Australia's Scotty James, who has dominated the event in recent years.

⛷️ Will we see another historic double? Czech snowboarder and alpine skier Ester Ledecka became the first athlete to win a gold medal in both sports four years ago at the Pyeongchang Olympics — and she's looking to repeat her historic double. She already won gold in snowboard parallel giant slalom on Tuesday; today will determine if she can pull off the same victory in the women's super-G alpine skiing competition. US star Mikaela Shiffrin is also set to compete in the event, after a difficult start to her Olympics.

⛸️ ROC controversy rumbles on: Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva, who is at the center of a drug testing controversy, has received the support of Moscow — but a Kremlin spokesperson would not confirm reports of a positive drug test among the figure skating team. Valieva is tipped to win the women's figure skating event next week. The controversy has continued to delay the medal ceremony of the figure skating team event, which was won by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

🔟🥇Speed skating head-to-head: Italian star Arianna Fontanna, the most decorated short tracker in both men's and women's events, claimed a record-extending 10th Olympic medal at the 500-meter event on Monday. Today, she takes to the ice again for the 1,000-meter final — but faces a challenge in her Dutch rival, world record holder Suzanne Schulting.

7:19 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022

Germany leads the medal table heading into Day 7 of the Beijing Winter Olympics

After almost a week of Winter Olympics action in Beijing, the medal count is led by European nations — with Team USA hot on their heels.

  1. Germany leads with six gold medals and two silvers.
  2. Norway is second with five golds, three silvers and four bronze.
  3. Austria in third has four golds, five silvers and four bronze.

The United States, which had been in 10th place at the start of Thursday, has pulled itself up to fourth place with four golds, five silvers and one bronze.

Meanwhile, China has dropped several places down to seventh. The hosts have won three golds and three silvers.

1:59 a.m. ET, February 11, 2022

Kremlin won't confirm positive drug test reports while backing Kamila Valieva and all Russian figure skaters

From CNN's Rebecca Wright, Christine Brennan, Helen Regan and Nathan Hodge

Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva, who is at the center of a drug testing controversy at Beijing 2022, has received the support of the Kremlin back in Moscow, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not confirm reports of a positive test among the Russian figure skating team.

"It [the reports] flared up among those who did not have verified information," said Peskov. "As usual, not knowing the details, everyone began to yell far and wide. We will not join this orderly row of yellers."

It remains unclear exactly when the positive test was taken, but Russian newspaper RBC Sport reported on Wednesday that a failed drug test was taken in December and has only come to light during the Winter Olympics.

The controversy has continued to delay the medal ceremony of the figure skating team event, which was won by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

"The only primary source of information should be the IOC," Peskov added.
"You have heard the IOC statements, there is no point for us to add anything here. We are guided by the IOC and we wish our athletes, including Valieva, only gold medals."

Multiple sources have told CNN Sports analyst Christine Brennan the athlete from the figure skating team event on the ROC team who tested positive for a prohibited substance is a minor.

The only minor on the ROC figure skating team is the 15-year-old star Valieva, who made history in the team event this week as the first woman to land a quad jump at the Winter Olympics.

Valieva is the favorite to take gold in the women's figure skating event — probably the most celebrated event at the Winter Olympics. That competition gets underway on Feb. 15.

RBC Sport reported on Wednesday that a member of the ROC's figure skating team tested positive for trimetazidine, according to a source familiar with the situation and a source in the Russian Figure Skating Federation.

CNN has reached out to the ROC for comment but has not yet received a response.

Trimetazidine is a drug used to treat people with a heart condition known as angina, a condition in which a person has chest pain due to poor blood flow to the heart. It is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) banned list.

The ROC team won gold in the team event ahead of the USA in silver and Japan in third.

Read more:

6:58 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022

Catch up on gold medal wins on Day 6 of the Beijing Winter Olympics

From CNN's Homero de La Fuente

American snowboarder Chloe Kim shows off her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the women's halfpipe on Thursday.
American snowboarder Chloe Kim shows off her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the women's halfpipe on Thursday. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The United States had some notable wins on Day 6 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Here's who took the eight gold medals that were at stake on Thursday.

Alpine skiing: Austria's Johannes Strolz captured the gold in the men’s alpine combined event.

Cross-country skiing: Norway's Therese Johaug won the women’s 10km classic event.

Figure skating: Nathan Chen brought home the gold for the United States in the men's singles skating event.

Freestyle skiing: Team USA also won the mixed team aerials event.

Luge: Germany clinched the gold in the team relay event for their third straight victory in the event.

Snowboard: Austria's Alessandro Hämmerle emerged victorious in men’s snowboard cross event.  

United States' Chloe Kim retained her title in the women’s snowboard halfpipe event.

Speed Skating: Irene Schouten of Netherlands captured her second gold of the Games in the women’s 5,000m event. 

6:49 p.m. ET, February 10, 2022

Winter sports are on thin ice — this snowboarder wants to preserve their future

From CNN's Nell Lewis and Leif Coorlim

Two months before the Beijing Winter Olympics began, a few hundred snow cannons were already at work, pumping out fresh powder to coat the slopes of the Alpine Ski Center in Yanqing, about 56 miles from central Beijing.

Aside from these strips of glistening white snow, the mountains, which rise to an altitude of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), are dry and covered in brown scrub. Beijing 2022 will be the first Winter Olympics to rely almost entirely on fake snow, which some athletes have warned could create dangerous, icy conditions.

But it's unlikely to be the last, as the climate crisis is shrinking our winters. If global greenhouse gas emissions remain on the current trajectory, by the end of the century, only one of 21 previous Winter Olympics locations will have enough snow and ice to reliably host the Games, according to a recent study by the University of Waterloo, in Canada.

Among these locations is Squaw Valley, in the Sierra Nevada, California, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. Now known as Palisades Tahoe, it's one of the local resorts for professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones.

A legend in big-mountain freeriding — earning Snowboarder Magazine's Big Mountain Snowboarder of the Year title 11 times — Jones has spent much of his life on top of mountains, as well as carving down their steepest faces with a spray of powder in his wake. Over his three-decade career, he has witnessed the effects of climate change firsthand.

Jones says he's seen it rain on mountain peaks in the dead of winter and watched glaciers recede over time. "Winters are often starting later, ending earlier and (there are) just more extremes of everything," he says. "We'll get half a season's worth of snow in three days and then have two months without any snow."

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