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Hungarian-American Freestyle Skier Elizabeth Swaney – Inspirational Athlete or Simply a Bad Skier at the Olympics?

By Fanni Kaszás // 2018.02.19.

Elizabeth Swaney, Hungary’s first Olympic freestyle skier, qualifying through the quota system and 13 career world cup half-pipe contests, came 24th out of 24 in the qualification run at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with some rather unimpressive moves in her run. Nevertheless, she has achieved her dream: to compete at an Olympic Games. 

The American-Hungarian Swaney only started skiing eight years ago, at the age of 25, and ever since her aim has been to compete at the Winter Olympics. To be frank, she is more of a persistent skier than a talented one, as she usually places last in her races.

After raising funds through online donation websites to help with her Olympic ambitions, Swaney managed to qualify for Pyeongchang due to the sheer volume of competitions she attended. She needed consistently finish in the top 30 at World Cup events to make it to South Korea, so she would choose World Cup events with small number of competitors. While other Olympians were competing in the more serious U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain or on the Dew Tour, she went to smaller events. Her best finish came at Secret Garden in China when she finished 13th out of 15 athletes.

She first attempted to compete as a Venezuelan skeleton sled athlete, but since 2016 she has been competing in Hungarian colors and qualified herself through her maternal grandparents to represent Hungary at the Olympics in 2018. She reached her goal to qualify herself, and now she hopes to inspire other athletes to pursue their dreams, as well as make half-pipe more popular among Hungarians:

I want to show others that freestyle skiing is possible and it is never too late to get into this sport, and to help others to dream and to progress the sport in Hungary. I hope this can be a platform to inspire others.

You can watch her less than inspiring run here:

While others scored around 90 out of 100 points, Swaney only got 30.00 and 31.40 with her rather unexciting runs. Although she completed both runs without falling, she did not attempt any more advanced trick than a 180 degree rotation uphill direction (an alley-oop). Her performance garnered a decidedly mixed reaction on social media. While some people praise her as a hero and inspiration, others think she should be ashamed of herself, laughing at her, and even calling her the new “Eddie, the Eagle“.

However, her competitors are more open-minded. Canadian Cassie Sharp, who placed first with the two highest-scoring runs in the halfpipe qualification, said Elizabeth deserves to be at the Olympics as much as other competitors do, as she “put in time and effort” to qualify herself.

via Reuters, Denver Post

featured photo: Reuters