Whenever the Winter Olympics rolls around, every four years, TV audiences look forward to sitting perched on the edge of their seats as they witness sporting greatness.
We love drama on the slopes. We want to see athletes on snowboards flying through the air upside down, and helmetted men and women in little snow canoes hurtling down ‘gnarly runs, dude’ which could potentially kill them.
But Elizabeth Swaney, an American-born freestyle halfpipe skier, representing Hungary in Pyeongchang (pictured below) didn’t get the memo.
The 33-year-old amateur skier finished in last place out of the 24 competing skiers after she made a run on the half-pipe which included absolutely no tricks at all.
Managing just the most basic of tricks, an alley-oop – when a skier rotates 180 degrees or more in the uphill direction – Swaney scored 30.00 and 31.40 respectively.
The US-based athlete, who took up skiing just eight years ago, found a loophole that if she made it through enough events without falling, she’d make the Olympics, and that’s exactly what she did.
Swaney’s scores left her trailing 13.60 points behind 23rd-placed Dane Laila Friis-Salling, who slipped on both runs.
Still, Swaney was disappointed she didn’t get to the finals, saying:
I didn’t qualify for the finals, so I’m really disappointed with that. But I worked really for several years to achieve this.
[People doubting me] actually motivates me to improve more. I worked really hard to come here and there are only 24 women in the world that could be in this final. So I use this as motivation.
FIS halfpipe judge Steele Spence told the Denver Post:
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.
She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last.
Liz, as she’s known on social media, is a Harvard graduate who as a 19-year-old student once ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the race to be California governor.
She only started skiing at 25 and has been driven ever since in her quest to compete at an Olympics.
After raising funds through online donations to help fuel her Olympic ambitions, Swaney managed to qualify for Pyeongchang due to the sheer volume of competitions she attended.
#newzealand #skiworldcup results…25th after my first run, thought I had a better second run but dropped to 29th. First time back on snow since March, so there's still more I can improve on in the future. Always working on having more faith in my skiing and on going all out. #nevergiveup #skihungary #freestyleski #halfpipe #ao1 #audiquattro #wgnz @wintergamesnz @smithoptics
While TV viewers are left disappointed, Canada’s Cassie Sharpe, who qualified in first place with the two highest-scoring runs, and her other competitors, are supportive.
If you are going to put in the time and effort to be here, then you deserve to be here as much as I do.
21st at World Championships in #Spain and best finish yet! Still lots more work, jumps, and leaps of faith to go. Thank you all for the help & support this season and also @corey_jackson and @teampcunited for coaching! #skihungary #freestyleski #skiworldchampionships #skihalfpipe @snevada2017 @dynastarskis @fulltiltboots @oakleyskiing
Swaney says she qualified to represent Hungary through her maternal grandparents after previously competing for Venezuela in other winter sports before switching her allegiance again in 2016 to prepare for Pyeongchang, reports The Guardian.
You’ve got to admire the guts and determination to do literally whatever it takes – even if it doesn’t take many tricks on the slopes – to achieve your dreams.