Day 11 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

By Aditi Sangal, Matias Grez, Jack Bantock, Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Patrick Sung, CNN

Updated 7:27 p.m. ET, February 15, 2022
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10:00 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Kamila Valieva tears up after impressive short program routine, making it to Thursday's free skate event

From CNN's Matias Grez, Selina Wang and Sandi Sidhu

Kamila Valieva tears up after skating in the women's short program on February 15.
Kamila Valieva tears up after skating in the women's short program on February 15. (Harry How/Getty Images)

There were tears from Kamila Valieva as she completes an impressive routine, posting a score of 82.16.

There was a slight stumble on her opening jump, a triple Axel, but she held it together well until the end to post the top score of the women's short program.

The crowd were audibly getting behind Valieva, perhaps more so than any other skater.

"Loudest applause for anyone for her when she finished," according to CNN staff inside the arena. "She looks incredibly emotional."

Valieva's score means that she makes it through to the free skate program on Thursday, where she will be one of the favorites for the gold.

The 15-year-old was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to compete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics after being at the center of a doping scandal.

After finishing her routine, she "walked past all of the journalists, including Russian ones, and left the mixed zone. She looked very solemn and didn’t speak to anyone or look at anyone," CNN staff in the arena reported.

8:53 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Kamila Valieva steps out onto the ice

From CNN's Matias Grez

All eyes are on Kamila Valieva as she steps on the ice this afternoon for the women single skating short program event, but so far she doesn't seem to be perturbed at all.

"Huge applause for Kamila when they announced her name," according to CNN Sport staff inside the arena. "She looks smooth and [had] perfection execution in her warm up."

"Russia is clapping for her even before she starts. Huge applause around the stadium. HUGE," CNN's Selina Wang reports.

8:42 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

The ROC's Kamila Valieva carries weight of doping scandal onto ice

From CNN's Simone McCarthy and Jack Bantock

Kamila Valieva warms up prior to the women's single skating short program on February 15.
Kamila Valieva warms up prior to the women's single skating short program on February 15. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The women's singles skating short program is underway at Beijing's Capital Indoor Stadium, and all eyes are on the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Kamila Valieva, who is now warming up on the rink.

Aged just 15, the Russian figure skating star finds herself at the center of a doping scandal that has inflamed mistrust of the Russian athletic establishment, pressed sporting organizations and athletes around the world to call for reform, and seen the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postpone medal ceremonies for any event that could place Valieva on the podium.

Officials are still investigating whether Valieva or her entourage broke anti-doping rules, after a test she took in December was found to be positive for a banned substance.

On Tuesday, an IOC official said Valieva is blaming the doping violation — in which she tested positive for a heart medication that experts say can improve stamina — on contamination from her grandfather's medication. Her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, told Russian state news agency Tass they are "absolutely sure" she is innocent.

On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Valieva for participation in the women's singles competition — the question will now be if the 15-year-old can tune out the noise.

Ordered 26th on the scheduling, Valieva is expected to be out on the ice around 8:52 a.m. ET or 9:52 p.m. local time and will perform to "In Memoriam" by Russian composer Kirill Richter.

Read the full story here.

8:40 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Team USA's Alysa Liu celebrates a successful performance on the ice

From CNN Sport staff

Team USA's Alysa Liu celebrates after her performance.
Team USA's Alysa Liu celebrates after her performance. (Dan Hodge/CNN)

Team USA's Alysa Liu was all smiles after her performance on the rink at the women single skating short program event. She scored 69.50 points.

8:27 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Pretzel power at women's figure skating

From CNN Sport staff

Just some German fans cheering on Nicole Schott with a giant pretzel. Nothing to see here.
Just some German fans cheering on Nicole Schott with a giant pretzel. Nothing to see here. (David J. Phillip/AP)

No need for pretzel logic to find out why these fans love figure skater Nicole Schott.

These Germans are making sure everyone knows one of their country's culinary delights as they watch their skater in the women's short program.

7:28 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

"Zhu Yi, add oil!": Chinese skater cheered on after last week's social media firestorm

From CNN's Jack Bantock and CNN Staff

China's Zhu Yi competes in the women's single skating short program on February 15.
China's Zhu Yi competes in the women's single skating short program on February 15. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Chinese figure skater Zhu Yi bounced back from a torrent of social media criticism last week as she was cheered on to a solid showing in the short program of the individual event on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old was the subject of widespread vitriol on Chinese social media after a fall in the team short program last Sunday, and she broke down in tears the following day after falling twice during the team free skate to finish fifth for her routine.

Yet from the minute she took to the rink for her short program individual routine, Zhu received nothing but unyielding support from the crowd at Capital Indoor Stadium.

Her entrance was welcomed by roaring applause and shouts of "add oil" — the Chinese equivalent of "go go" — according to CNN staff at the stadium.

Skating to 'Paint it Black,' the support continued unwavering as Zhu recovered from a wobbly opening jump to successfully land all her jumps in an altogether assured performance that was rewarded with a 53.44 score.

A smiling Zhu waved happily at the camera and received more applause at the announcement of a result which leaves her ranked 12th of 15 at the time of writing.

Zhu finishing up her short program routine on February 15.
Zhu finishing up her short program routine on February 15. Dan Hodge/CNN

Zhu needs to place in the top 25 of the field of 30 to qualify for the free skating final on Thursday.

Typically, it is only the top 24 that progress, but this has been changed due to the ongoing doping scandal surrounding the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Kamila Valieva.

The 15-year-old figure skater — who was found to have tested positive for a banned substance in December — is slated to perform as the 26th competitor and is expected to be out on the ice around 8:52 a.m. ET or 9:52 p.m. local time.

7:12 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

"My mind hasn’t recovered": Japanese speed skater reflects on heartbreaking fall

From CNN's Matias Grez

Japan's Ayano Sato and Miho Takagi react after their teammate Nana Takagi fell in the women's team pursuit final on February 15.
Japan's Ayano Sato and Miho Takagi react after their teammate Nana Takagi fell in the women's team pursuit final on February 15. (Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images)

Athletes train their entire careers for a shot at winning Olympic gold.

But for every moment of glory for one athlete, there is often a moment of misfortune for another.

On Tuesday, Japan's speed skaters were unfortunately on the receiving end of heartbreak.

With Japan leading Canada in the team pursuit final and seemingly on course to be crowned Olympic champions, Nana Takagi got one of her blades caught in the ice on the final corner, causing her to fall and crash into the barriers.

“To be honest, I was in an excellent mood (before the race)," Takagi said. "I thought I’m going to complete my best skate in the past one and a half weeks, together with my sister (Miho).

“My mind hasn’t recovered from the fall. It’s hard for me to think or talk about it right now.”

But despite that heartbreak, the Japanese skaters still embodied the Olympic spirit.

After the race, as a crestfallen Nana cried at the side of the track, her teammate and sister Miho immediately went over to console her.

Japan's Nana Takagi is consoled by her teammates after falling during the women's team pursuit final on February 15.
Japan's Nana Takagi is consoled by her teammates after falling during the women's team pursuit final on February 15. (The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP)

"I couldn't find any words to tell her at that moment," Miho said. "I just wanted to be close to her and give her a hug.

"In this event, to fall, we understand the pressure will be on. We cannot turn it around, we cannot change it. That is frustrating.

"You may feel they should not be held responsible, but that skater who falls will feel guilty. So I knew I had these mixed feelings and that is why I hugged my sister," Miho said.

We regret so much not taking gold.

"We did what we can. We made plans together on how to skate faster (and) we were confident in skating our best.

"Ending the race with a fall just made it hard to judge our performance, but still I think we raced our best.”

The third skater on the team, Ayano Sato, said she had "mixed feelings of regret and joy."

“If we focus only on the result, as we were aiming for a gold medal, it’s just disappointing. 

“[But] the time we spend together thinking about how to deliver our best performance, how to skate even faster, this time itself is priceless to me."

6:45 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Eileen Gu reveals mom helped her turn slopestyle final around and win second medal of Beijing 2022

From CNN's Ben Morse

China freestyle skier Eileen Gu performs a trick during the women's slopestyle finals on February 15.
China freestyle skier Eileen Gu performs a trick during the women's slopestyle finals on February 15. (Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty Images)

Eileen Gu's medal hopes did not look promising after two runs of the women's freeski slopestyle event at Genting Snow Park.

During her second run, Gu had fallen backwards off the rail, a mistake which had plunged her to eighth position and with a distant chance at a second medal of Beijing 2022 after winning gold in the big air event.

As the poster child for a new type of Chinese athlete and one with sky-high aspirations — Gu has been candid that she hoped to win medals in all three of the events she was competing in — the pressure was mounting on the 18-year-old's shoulders.

So Gu did what many teenagers do in times of need: she talked to her mom.

"My mom knows me very well and she knows the way my brain works with pressure. I've done a lot of work, read a lot of psychology books, did a lot of research on my own brain to see how I deal with pressure. And now, we know that I perform well under it.

"So in the first round, in the second round, I wasn't fully in the zone, if that makes sense. I wasn't in that headspace.

"And my mom could see that, so I talked to her after the first run. She was like: 'Pretend your second run is your third run, pretend you have no more chances.' I was like: 'I'm trying,' but I guess my imagination is not that good."

And as the saying goes, mother knows best — Gu produced a stunning final run to surge back into the medal hunt, eventually finishing with a silver just 0.3 points behind gold medalist Mathilde Gremaud.

Read more about how Gu's mother helped her win her second medal of the Games here.

7:08 a.m. ET, February 15, 2022

Jørgen Graabak takes gold in action-packed men's Nordic combined

From CNN's Matias Grez

Norway's Jørgen Graabak, right, celebrates after winning the men's individual large hill/10km Nordic combined on February 15.
Norway's Jørgen Graabak, right, celebrates after winning the men's individual large hill/10km Nordic combined on February 15. (Aaron Favila/AP)

Jørgen Graabak chased down the leading pack to take home a brilliant gold medal for Norway in the men's individual large hill/10km Nordic combined in a time of 27:13.3.

There was a tense race between four skiers down the finishing straight, with Graabak just pipping teammate Jens Lurås Oftebro on the line by 0.4 seconds.

Oftebro's silver made it a Norwegian one-two, with Japan's Akito Watabe taking home bronze.

"It's what dreams are made of. It's unreal to be honest, I can't quite believe it," said Graabak. "I have to see the replay first. It's hard to believe, but of course, I'm really happy."

"It demanded everything I've got, so I'm really, really tired at the moment. It was a really tough race, starting over two minutes behind. I didn't think it was possible. It's unreal, I don't know what to say."

German Manuel Faisst was the unfortunate skier to come in fourth after a grueling battle.

Earlier in the race, Norway's Jarl Magnus Riiber had perhaps one of the Winter Olympics' biggest nightmares.

Leading by more than 40 seconds after his performance in the ski jump portion of the event, Riiber took a wrong turn and headed down the home straight prematurely — instead, he should have taken the other turn to begin his second lap.

Riiber had to turn around and ski the wrong way up the finishing straight to go back and begin his second lap, which cost him the entire lead he'd built up. He eventually finished eighth.

Riiber was only allowed out of isolation yesterday after a positive Covid test and perhaps hadn't had the time to scope out the course.