The women's ski halfpipe got started Monday at the Winter Olympics and it featured one of the most bizarre sights of the PyeongChang games.
American Elizabeth Swaney is competing for Hungary, and when the time came for her qualification run, she was ready to do exactly what she had done to earn her spot at the Olympics: absolutely nothing.
According to Jason Blevins of The Denver Post, Swaney has been competing in World Cup halfpipe events since 2013 with the approach of not performing any tricks and simply getting through the course without falling. With so few women competing in these events, Swaney was able to earn enough top-30 finishes with this style to be eligible for the Olympics.
"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," ski halfpipe and slopestyle judge Steele Spence told Blevins. "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."
Philippe Belanger, the head judge for freeskiing competitions in PyeongChang, told Blevins that if Swaney had crashed just three or four times at the World Cups she would not have earned enough points for the Olympic qualification and country quota requirements. Belanger also told Blevins the International Ski Federation is considering going with a smaller pool of competitors for 2022 to make sure athletes have to earn more points at World Cups to qualify.
Although Swaney's run was not the most impressive thing you will see from an athlete at these games, it appears that she did accomplish exactly what she tried to do with the run. And maybe this will have an impact on skiing in Hungary.
"I want to inspire others in Hungary and the world to become involved in freestyle skiing," Swaney said according to The Post. "Maybe perhaps I’m the bridge to those who want to get started in the life of freestyle skiing and I want to show people that, yeah, it’s possible to get involved in freestyle skiing through a variety of backgrounds."