What’s Up With This Olympic Freeskier’s Bizarrely Bad Halfpipe Run?

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Eric the Eel might have finally met his match.

For those unfamiliar, Equatorial Guinea’s Eric Moussambani became a sensation at the 2000 Summer Olympics with a delightfully terrible 100-meter swim that won his heat because the other two swimmers disqualified with false starts.

Fast forward to Monday in Pyeongchang, where spectators at the Olympic women’s ski halfpipe witnessed this bizarre run by Hungary’s Elizabeth Swaney:

“Simple” might be an understatement.

Swaney attempted virtually no tricks and barely made it out of the halfpipe. So, if she’s such a bad skier, how the heck did she qualify for the Olympics?

It’s a fascinating, if somewhat bizarre, story: There were 24 women’s ski halfpipe slots available for the 2018 Olympics, but each country only can send a maximum of four skiers. That means some top skiers get left out in the cold: The U.S. had six skiers finish in the top 20 in Olympic qualifying, but only the top four made it.

Swaney, a 33-year-old California native and Harvard graduate, was born American but has Hungarian grandparents. In order to qualify for the Hungarian Olympic team, she simply had to attend enough World Cup skiing events and finish in the top 30 in at least one of them. Which she did.

“She would compete in (World Cup events) consistently over the last couple years and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last,” International Ski Federation freeski judge Steele Spence recently told the Denver Post.

The result was Swaney, a thoroughly average skier by layman’s standards and an awful skier by professional standards, competing alongside the world’s best in Pyeongchang — and becoming a polarizing figure in the process.

Swaney scored a 30 out of 100 on that run and finished dead last in qualifying, which isn’t surprising to anyone — except Swaney, apparently.

“I didn’t qualify for the finals, so I‘m really disappointed with that,” she said after her run, via Reuters. “But I worked really for several years to achieve this.”

Thumbnail photo via Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports Images

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