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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Twitter has mixed reaction to Elizabeth Swaney’s puzzling halfpipe run

Elizabeth Swaney is likely the least skilled athlete at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but the American who represented Hungary in PyeongChang has quickly become one of the most polarizing stories.

On Monday, Swaney was one of 24 skiers who took part in the women’s freestyle halfpipe event. The 33-year-old finished dead last, and it’s easy to see why when you watch her run:

Swaney simply rode back and forth down the halfpipe, incorporating virtually no tricks or anything that even an average skier would find difficult. A feature from Jason Blevins of the Denver Post on Sunday explained how Swaney qualified for the Olympics. Basically, she funded her own training and fulfilled the requirements by participating in 13 World Cup halfpipe contests, meeting the Olympic requirement for top-30 finishes by competing in events with around 30 or less than 30 entrants.

“I’m just trying to do the best for myself and represent Hungary as best as I can,” Swaney, whose grandparents are from Hungary, said after Sunday’s practice run. “I really hope to inspire others in Hungary to take up freestyle skiing and I hope that contributes to a greater number of people out there freestyle skiing.”

FIS ski halfpipe and slopestyle judge Steele Spence told Blevins that plans are in the works to up the standards needed to qualify for the halfpipe up at the Olympics, such as needing more points than those you can accumulate just from completing a run without falling. Many fans found Swaney’s determination inspirational:

Others, naturally, were not so kind:

The Hungarian Ski Federation said it was completely unaware of Swaney’s skill level and had not seen her in competition in the past year.

Some skiers who chose to remain anonymous told the Denver Post they believe the Olympics should be a stage for the elite to showcase their skills, while others felt having an amateur might “provide perspective.” No matter which side you stand on, you have to commend Swaney for her determination. Like the Mexican skier we saw who came in dead last in a cross-country event, she put in the time and effort needed to accomplish her goal.

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