Olympic Skier Who Performed No Tricks in Halfpipe Disappointed to Not Be Advancing
Before you read on, you need to watch Olympic skier Elizabeth Swaney’s run (shown below the Recommended Video break). Seriously. Watch it.
Swaney competed for Hungary in the women's freestyle skiing halfpipe. She is not a professional skier. In fact, she's not that great at halfpipe compared to her competition. She finished 24th of 24 skiers. "I didn't qualify for finals so I'm really disappointed," she told the AP. The 33-year-old who lives in California wasn't kidding.
Swaney finished with a score of 31.40, which was a good sight below the 72.80 Anais Caradeux of France logged to finish 12th, the last slot to move onto the finals.
"Philippe Belanger, the head judge at freeskiing competitions at the PyeongChang Olympics, said if Swaney had crashed at three or four World Cups, she would not have earned enough points to meet the Olympic qualification and country quota requirements. " Shout out to not falling— James Roarty (@JRnowaUScitizen) February 19, 2018
It's not some strategy to not fall. Both of her Olympic runs look like this. According to the AP, this is a typical performance for Swaney. She has finished near the bottom in the dozen or so international events she competed in over the last four years.
As the AP notes, she's had a number of strange goals in her life, including trying out for the Oakland Raiders and running for governor of California at age 19. Her Olympic dream began as a hope to do skeleton for Venezuela. When that didn't work out, she changed the target. She only started skiing eight years ago. "I still want to inspire people to get involved with athletics or a new sport or a new challenge at any age in life," she said.
Swaney didn't do anything illegal to land a spot on the Hungarian Olympic team. She joined the team because her grandfather was Hungarian. She collected the required number of FIS points to compete in the Olympics, likely at a great personal expense.
Hungarian Ski Federation on Elizabeth Swaney:"The situation was mainly caused by the qualification system and few participants. It is a fact that we have not seen Elizabeth in action the last year, we realised her level at the Olympics. She self-funded her preparation&qualifying"— Gergely Marosi (@emgergo) February 19, 2018
It's not performance art. It's not a joke. She genuinely wants to compete, even though she can't do a whole lot on the halfpipe. The competitors interviewed by the AP think Swaney earned her way into the Games just like everyone else, and it's fine.
You might get a smile out of her run after seeing Maddie Bowman do seemingly impossible things on the halfpipe. But, at the same time, it's an admirable pursuit. She doesn't fall. She is clearly trying to get some amplitude. She's working on improving. (Seriously, have you tried to do a halfpipe?) And she's doing nothing that hinders any of the other athletes. It's a reminder that all the athletes battling for medals in PyeongChang are just people who worked hard. Though there are some notable differences, see German Madrazo, Pita Taufatofua, Eddie the Eagle, or Ester Ledecka, who had to borrow skis to enter a skiing event as a snowboarder. (She won gold.)
Whether you love her run or hate, expect the possibility that the International Olympic Committee changes qualification rules again, just as it did after Eddie the Eagle's famous ski jumping appearance in 1988. The so-called Eddie the Eagle rule required competitors to be in the top 30% or top 50 international competitors.
h/t Associated Press
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