This entirely average skier managed to compete in the Olympics thanks to a loophole
American-born Elizabeth Swaney has been competing for Hungary.
A very average skier has been competing at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang thanks to a loophole.
Elizabeth Swaney, who started skiing eight years ago, finished last in the women’s halfpipe qualifying heats on Monday without performing a single trick – after qualifying as Team Hungary’s first and only Olympic freestyle skier.
The 33-year-old is American-born with grandparents from Hungary, and qualified through the country’s quota system by competing in 13 career World Cup halfpipe contests – finishing last or almost last every time.
Swaney has never registered a score higher than 40 in any of her International Ski Federation-sanctioned events, in a sport where points are given out of 100 based on the tricks and flair of competitors.
She finished Monday’s event with a score of 31.40, 40 points behind the bottom of the pack of athletes that reached Tuesday’s medal round.
Swaney’s technique is to avoid tricks and make sure she doesn’t fall, to ensure she always registers a score and finishes – qualifying thanks to the small fields of women competing, with just 24 at Monday’s Olympic competition.
“That’s right kids, you too can get into the Olympics just like Elizabeth Swaney.— We call B.S.🌊 (@KsKM3) February 19, 2018
1. Have enough money to travel the world competing in skiing events for 2 years.
2. Make sure the events have less than 30 competitors.
3. Place in the Top 30.”
I love the strategy - just finish. Let the others fall and finish last. I’ll give her credit for even jumping into that halfpipe.— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) February 19, 2018
Despite having only started skiing recently, Swaney was disappointed she did not do better in Monday’s qualifying.
“I didn’t qualify for finals so I’m really disappointed,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Swaney has shown similarly novel ambition either, having once studied at Berkeley and Harvard and run for governor of California whilst a 19-year-old student.
She even reportedly mounted a charge to compete in the skeleton for Venezuela at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, attempting to qualify through her Venezuelan mother.
I can’t figure out if Liz is psycho or just some sort of adventure seeker that we should be applauding for her hustle to get into the Olympics. She used to compete for Team Venezuela in skeleton!— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) February 19, 2018
Starting the @ElizabethSwaney fan club— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) February 19, 2018
I've spent 2 hours of my day trying to figure out (cyberstalking) Elizabeth Swaney and I am utterly fascinated. #elizabethswaney— Seamus Dever (@seamusdever) February 19, 2018
Not the best skier in the world, but a fascinating character to be sure.
Swaney said she wants to “inspire people to get involved with athletics or a new sport or a new challenge at any age in life”.