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20 February 2018, 07:52 | Tracey Rhodes
Elizabeth Swaney become an overnight sensation at the Winter Olympics by being the worst skier there. Getty
Her best finish came at Secret Garden in China when she finished 13th out of 15 athletes while a majority of her Olympic rivals were competing in the US Grand Prix at Copper Mountain or on the Dew Tour. There are going to be changes to World Cup quotas and qualifying to be eligible for the Olympics.
As International Ski Federation judge Steele Spence told Jason Blevins of the Denver Post (via Sporting News' Marcus DiNitto), Swaney exploited a loophole by accumulating appearances and often simply avoiding a last-place finish for a country with few Olympic hopefuls in the sport. (Well, she did prove her gumption when she launched a campaign to run for governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger while an undergrad at Berkeley). "She's got herself in shape".
Swaney is an American, but not a U.S. Olympic athlete; she had no chance of making Team USA.
Here's what the Internet thought of her unique run. That would require Olympians to harvest more than the minimum points awarded just for showing up and not falling at World Cup contests.
So Swaney juggled her job as a software engineer recruiter for Thumbtack with some honest-to-goodness hard training and some strategic thinking. Swaney's version of the halfpipe involves riding up one wall and then riding down the other without throwing a trick, only attempting a couple of incredibly-easy 180s late in the pipe and leaving NBC's commentators stunned for words as a result.
But on completing the course, and finishing last of the 24 competitors, she looked delighted. She's really worked out and she's more fit.
"I could do a better job on my snowboard - and I'm not even that good on it". She may not have the jaw-dropping athletic talent, but she had the brains and the determination to find a way to make it all the way to the Olympics. She won't be in the finals as her runs were what one would expect from someone trying out the bunny slope for the first time. Watch Swaney's full run below.
While many on social media have viewed Swaney's Olympic qualification and participation as a mockery of the sport and the Games, some fellow professionals voiced their support for her efforts. Some said an amateur in the mix might provide perspective.
Per Reuters' Jack Tarrant, the 33-year-old "qualified to represent Hungary through her maternal grandparents after previously competing for Venezuela in other winter sports".
Basically, all Swaney did was ski up and down the half pipe, managing decent turns at the top. "Maybe perhaps I'm the bridge to those who want to get started in the life of freestyle skiing and I want to show people that, yeah, it's possible to get involved in freestyle skiing through a variety of backgrounds".
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