American Elizabeth Swaney Games The Olympic System, Gets Spot On Hungarian Freestyle Ski Team, Can Barely Ski

Elizabeth Swaney, an American, turned in one of the most insane Olympic performances today in the Freestyle Skiing event in Pyeonchang for Team Hungary. I know you’re sorta confused at that first line so I’ll try to make this a little easier to understand.

Elizabeth Swaney gamed the Olympics for a spot on Team Hungary and she can barely ski the halfpipe.

Here’s the backstory on Swaney:

The 33-year-old American with a graduate degree from Harvard Universityis Hungary’s first Olympic freestyle skier after qualifying through both the country’s quota system and 13 career World Cup halfpipe contests. In those contests, she has finished last or within a couple spots of last place.

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.”

How freeskier Elizabeth Swaney made it to the #WinterOlympics with this very simple halfpipe run: https://t.co/enfDyoQjGC pic.twitter.com/kHTAV7XND4

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) February 20, 2018

Swaney figured out a way to get to every World Cup event where she competed – barely – and somehow, someway…found a spot on Team Hungary.

Her background is about what you’d expect from someone who gamed the Olympics.

She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She ran for governor as an undergrad and lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has a master’s degree in design studies with a concentration in real estate from Harvard. Now she recruits software engineers in the Bay Area.

It’s going to take more investigating on my part to figure out if Swaney is kooky to the point where she’d make your life a living hell if you put a ring on it or if she’s just a fun spirit who saw a loophole and was like what the hell, might as well live it up a little.

There’s something about Liz that intrigues me.

Liz posted this on IG when she made Team Hungary:

I was born during the summer Olympics, and kept a life of skating/rowing/skeleton Olympic dreams before learning to ski 8 years ago. Skiing became a new world for me. Over 7 years, I have taught a few hundred people to ski while trying to give others the same opportunity I had. Over the past 6, I have also been fortunate to be coached by the most amazing freestyle ski training team. In February, I will be among the 24 women (+ 27 men) around the world that will compete in ski halfpipe in PyeongChang, South Korea. Congrats to my fellow freestyle competitors as well as friends in other sports; it’s been a long road for many of us!

While I am thrilled, honored, and humbled, at the same time, my heart breaks for those athletes who tried so hard, and sacrificed a lot over 4, 8, 10, 20+ years etc. and were in many cases so close, but ultimately won’t be on this Olympic roster. I’ve been there before. There’s so many amazing athletes in this position; from other friends & fellow/former competitors in freestyle skiing and skeleton, to athletes in many other disciplines as well, I’m sure. You have all inspired me, pushed me, and I have learned from you. Your presence will be felt at these Games and you deserve to be recognized. Thank you to @thumbtack@pcssfreeski@parkcitymountain@deervalleyresort@utaholympicpark and @instaviser for all your help on the snow and off!

That’s some psycho level stuff right there in bold.

It gets even crazier…here’s Liz competing in the skeleton at Lake Placid for Team Venezuela: