Day 9 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

By George Ramsay, Matias Grez, Patrick Sung, Jessie Yeung and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, February 13, 2022
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3:09 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

For the first time since Games began, Beijing is waking up to real snow instead of artificial

From CNN's Nectar Gan in Beijing

A snowy Beijing on February 13.
A snowy Beijing on February 13. (Nectar Gan/CNN)

On the ninth day of the Winter Olympics, Beijing is waking up to a dusting of snow.

A blanket of white now covers roofs, sidewalks, carparks and pedestrian bridges across the city, the first in the world to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Games.

It's the first time Beijing has snowed since the Games began. The city has relied completely on artificial snow to cover its slopes and venues — which environmentalists and critics say is a huge drain on energy and water resources.

The Chinese capital is one of the driest regions in China, with typically very little snow in the winter.

The city itself is only hosting the indoor ice events (apart from the freeski big air, located in an industrial park in the west of the city). The snow events are mostly taking place in the suburb of Yanqing and the neighboring city of Zhangjiakou, where temperatures are about 10 degrees Celsius lower, and which have seen natural snowfall last week.

To coat the ski slopes, about 300 snow cannons have to blast out artificial snow on those brown mountains. But at least today, they can have a break.

3:10 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

Bleach sprayed on carpets and AI translators: What it's like inside the Olympics

From CNN's Dan Hodge and David Hawley

A worker spraying disinfectant at the Secret Garden Genting Grand, at the Beijing Olympics.
A worker spraying disinfectant at the Secret Garden Genting Grand, at the Beijing Olympics. (Dan Hodge/CNN)

The corridors of the Secret Garden Genting Grand in Zhangjiakui seem like any other hotel in a ski resort — but of course, the resort hosting the Beijing 2022 mountain sports is not just any other hotel.

Being within the "closed loop" that separates Olympic athletes and participants from the Chinese public means there are a few quirks to contend with. 

You’re joined in the corridors by dozens of hazmat-suited staff, one of whom is spraying a "disinfectant solution" that smells a lot like bleach from a hose attached to his Ghostbuster-style backpack. They pass through with their sprays at least three times a day, covering mainly the carpet in their mist.  

Relentless disinfectant seems to be a theme across the Games, with white spray marks adorning everything from the airport information booths on arrival, the PVC screen separating us from our closed loop drivers, to stains on black shoes from a freshly sprayed carpet. 

iFLYTEK Jarvisen, an AI smart translator developed in China used by staff and restaurant servers at the Beijing Olympics.
iFLYTEK Jarvisen, an AI smart translator developed in China used by staff and restaurant servers at the Beijing Olympics. (Dan Hodge/CNN)

Breaking the language barrier for lunch: In the mountain resort of Zhangjiakou, the hotels have restaurants ranging from Chinese food and Western-style diners to chain brands like KFC and Pizza Hut.

But one thing they all have in common is the language barrier between the primarily English-speaking clientele and our Mandarin-speaking hosts. In an (almost) Google-less China, there might be an app for that, but some of these restaurants are opting to use other hardware.

The tech that at first glance resembles a cellphone from the early 2000s is in fact the iFLYTEK Jarvisen – an AI smart translator developed in China. Our experience with the tech has been a pleasant one, certainly making mealtimes less stressful. 

9:14 p.m. ET, February 12, 2022

It's 9:30 in Beijing. Here's what to watch today

We're on Day 9 of the Winter Olympics, with another full schedule ahead of us – including the return of China's hottest star, and the drug test controversy surrounding the Russian Olympic Committee. Here's what to watch today:

  • China's superstar on the slopes: Freeskier Eileen Gu faces the slopestyle qualifying today and the finals tomorrow. Her Olympic debut got the world's attention when she won gold last week at the halfpipe big air event. She could see a podium finish at slopestyle – as well as the half-pipe finals on February 18, her strongest event, where she has been touted as a heavy favorite to win. If she does, she could be leaving China with an unprecedented three Olympic freeski medals.
  • From isolation to competition: American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor is gearing up for the women's monobob competition -- the sport's Olympic debut -- with the heats taking place today. She is the world's top monobobber, but is returning from isolation after testing positive, which cost her spot as a flagbearer in the opening ceremony. She had to do makeshift workouts in her room with weights, while others had unofficial runs at the track.  
  • To race or not to race: American alpine skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin said yesterday she hadn't yet decided whether to compete in the women's downhill race on Tuesday. There will be two more training sessions for the race, including one today. Shiffrin, an Olympic medalist at the 2014 and 2018 Games, crashed out of her two favorite events last week – before placing ninth at the super-G event, the first time she crossed the finish line at the Beijing Olympics thus far.
  • Russian figure skater's hearing: The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hold a hearing today on the 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, whose positive drug test in December has sparked controversy on whether she should be allowed to continue competing – and whether the Russian Olympic Committee will be able to keep the gold medal she helped them win at the team event. The hearing results are expected to come Monday, and Valieva is due to compete at her next event on Tuesday.
  • Nordic rivalry on the ice: The final preliminary round in men's ice hockey will take place today between old rivals Finland and Sweden. Even without NHL players, both countries have strong domestic leagues.
  • Giant slalom: Swiss skier Matt Odermatt will compete in the men's giant slalom, and is expected to deliver a strong performance. Despite him coming seventh in the downhill event and failing to finish the super-G event, Odermatt has been peerless in the giant slalom this season in the World Cup.
3:10 a.m. ET, February 13, 2022

Germany and Norway tied for gold medal lead

Germany and Norway have performed well all throughout the Games – and are now tied for the number of gold medals, with both at eight so far.

The United States, which had a slow start to the Games, now is tied for third with the Netherlands and Austria, all with five gold medals under their belt.

Host nation China ranks seventh, with four gold medals.

9:18 p.m. ET, February 12, 2022

CAS to hold Kamila Valieva hearing on Sunday, with a decision expected on Monday

From CNN's Wayne Sterling and George Ramsay

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva attends a training session on February 11.
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva attends a training session on February 11. (Anne-Christine/AFP/Getty Images)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced that a hearing regarding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's positive drug test will be held on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. Beijing time (7:30 a.m. Eastern time).

This comes after CAS received a third application, filed by the International Skating Union (ISU), regarding the case of the 15-year-old Valieva, who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine in December.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) – on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the ISU – said on Friday they would be appealing the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) decision to lift a provisional suspension on Valieva.

According to CAS, a decision on what sanctions Valieva could face will be made on Monday afternoon.

Some context: Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win gold in the figure skating team event last week, a day before reports of the positive test emerged.

She is due to compete in the short program of the women's singles event on Tuesday.

9:20 p.m. ET, February 12, 2022

Hear Shaun White reflect on the "crazy ride" that’s been his snowboarding career

From CNN's George Ramsay

American snowboarder Shaun White walks off after his last run in the halfpipe final on February 11.
American snowboarder Shaun White walks off after his last run in the halfpipe final on February 11. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

US snowboarding great Shaun White called time on his Olympic career earlier in the Games as he finished fourth in the men’s halfpipe following a fall on the final run.

White, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and a man widely credited with revolutionizing the sport of snowboarding, has been speaking to CNN’s Coy Wire about the emotions of his retirement.

“It’s been this crazy ride, and I’ve loved every bit of it,” he said. “Sad to hang up the competitive side of my life, but I’m so excited for the rest of it.”

Watch the interview here:

7:56 p.m. ET, February 12, 2022

What you missed yesterday: Who won gold on Day 8

From CNN's Patrick Sung and Wayne Sterling

Day 8 of competition has wrapped at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and gold medals were awarded for six events today. Germany and Norway are tied at the top of the medal table with eight golds each, with the United States closely behind on five. These are the lucky winners of Saturday's competition.

Biathlon: Norway's Johannes Thingnes Bø took home the gold in the men's 10-kilometer sprint, with his brother, Tarjei, winning bronze.

Cross-Country Skiing: The Russian Olympic Committee won the women's 4x5-kilometer team relay in dramatic fashion.

Skeleton: Hannah Neise won the women's skeleton a year after winning the junior world championships to continue Germany's dominance in sliding sports.

Ski Jumping: Norway's Marius Lindvik edged out Japan's Ryoyu Kobayashi – who was going for the ski jumping double – in the men's individual large hill.

Snowboard: Despite being the oldest pair in the competition, Americans Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner won the mixed team snowboard cross, making Baumgartner the oldest ever Olympic snowboarding medalist.

Short Track Speed Skating: Gao Tingyu gave the home fans something to cheer for as he won gold in the men's 500-meter in an Olympic record time.