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An Olympic Halfpipe Run You Won't See Again

The Olympics in PyeongChang saw something really unusual today- a halfpipe performance with absolutely no tricks. Half-pipe skiing has been a Winter Olympic event only since 2014. Elizabeth Swaney is an American skier competing for Hungary. She is, by all accounts, an average skier, but she made the Olympic team by consistently showing up in a sport that doesn't have many competitors, especially in the women's division. The Denver Post tells her story.

Swaney, who said her grandparents came from Hungary, earned her Olympic berth more from attending World Cup events than actually competing. Women’s pipe skiing World Cups rarely see more than 30 competitors, so it’s not hard to meet the Olympic requirement for a top-30 finish. At last December’s World Cup in China, when most of the world’s top skiers were competing in the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain and Dew Tour at Breckenridge, Swaney finished 13 out of 15 competitors, her best career finish.

“The field is not that deep in the women’s pipe and she went to every World Cup, where there were only 24, 25, or 28 women,” said longtime FIS ski halfpipe and slopestyle judge Steele Spence. “She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last. There are going to be changes to World Cup quotas and qualifying to be eligible for the Olympics. Those things are in the works so technically you need to qualify up through the system.”

She certainly skis better than I do, but this is not what you expect at the Olympics. Swaney ended up in last place in the qualifying runs at PyeongChang today. -via Uproxx


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She, like Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and Eric "The Eel" Moussambani and others, is a reminder that the Olympics comes out of amateur athletics. Quoting Ranatunge Karunananda, who came in dead last in his race in the '64 Olympics and far behind the winner, "The Olympic spirit is not to win, but to take part. So I came here. I took part in the 10,000 metres and completed my rounds."
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