Elizabeth Swaney's last place finish makes headlines worldwide

Team Hungary skier Elizabeth Swaney finished in last place in qualification for the women's ski halfpipe final Monday after two simple runs.

Swaney has not missed a World Cup event in recent years, travelling to destinations like Italy, New Zealand and China as she made the most of a legislation loophole that dictates you can qualify for the Games with a series of top-30 finishes.

"No, she's part of the game".

Swaney kept her eye on the prize and, with some determination and a little bit of luck, it finally paid off. While every other competitor was attempting outrageous tricks and getting as much air as possible in a bid to score points from the judges, Swaney instead took things a bit more steadily. According to the Denver Post, Swaney has been competing in World Cup events since 2013 while pursuing her Olympic dream.

While Swaney did fulfill a giant dream by merely making the Olympics, she also hopes her journey serves as an inspiration to others.

Essentially, Steele explains, the Winter Olympics requires that you place in the Top 30 in a number of competitions in that particular event.

It prompted many to ponder just how the 33-year-old had reached the lofty heights of Olympic selection without reaching any literal lofty heights.

Blikk, a Hungarian tabloid newspaper, was a lot more critical of her, writing that "any of the tough hobby-skiers can do better than her after training for three days" and suggesting she got her Olympic ticket because she might be some "oligarch's girlfriend". Going for these paths, and then opting for another easing up to the top of the wall, showing the judge she can make it down this halfpipe clean.

In Swaney's qualifying runs, she simply went back and forth on the halfpipe. According to the Olympic Games, while born in the USA, she is eligible to represent Hungary through her mother's heritage.

"Her persistence is probably her biggest strength, so she's always there and she's gone to all the World Cups and she's put in the time and the miles". Slow and steady, Swaney outscored the pair - and for one magical qualifying run, she didn't finish last. And while you see women doing all kinds of freaky tricks that sound like Star Trek spaceships - for instance, cork 1080 - she's seemingly average in comparison.

"She's an interesting study", Haslock said. She didn't really do any tricks during her two runs at Phoenix Snow Park.

The odd sight of Swaney's performance was the end to a quest that raised questions of whether someone with inferior credentials should be allowed to manipulate the system to become an Olympian. Swaney's runs, which involve no tricks, are not intimidating.

It's not easy to qualify for the Olympics, but it might not require super-human athletic ability either.

Sharpe, who will go last in the finals and revels in pushing the boundaries each time she drops in, isn't sure being competitive should matter.

Her fellow competitors have mixed feelings about Swaney's presence in the Olympics.

  • Julie Sanders