Elizabeth Swaney: Disgrace to Women’s Halfpipe or Queen of Not Giving a F*ck?


Did ya catch the women’s Olympic halfpipe qualifiers last night? If you did you probably noticed one gal whose runs stood out from the rest of the competition. Not because of her amplitude, or style but for her sheer mediocrity. Swaney’s run was nothing to write home about - she didn’t clear the pipe walls or attempt any grabs or tricks - so why was she in the Olympics in the first place? Persistence and taking advantage of the system.

Swaney is competing for Hungary - a country that apparently does not have a flourishing halfpipe scene, or any halfpipe skiing at all, for that matter. She qualified by competing in the required number of World Cup events and working her way through Hungary’s quota system.

She qualified over women who are undeniably more deserving of a spot on the world stage. Athletes who have literally risked life and limb to change the perception of women's halfpipe skiing as a sport that should be taken seriously. Due to the quotas around how many athletes may compete from each country those athletes would not have been given a spot at the Olympics whether Swaney completed or not.

Is it fair? Hell no. But since has anything in life been fair.

On one hand:

Women in halfpipe skiing (and life) don't get the benefit of the doubt, and they have to fight harder and do more than men. The snowsports industry continually questions whether women should even compete in halfpipe - is it worth the sponsorship dollars? The TV time? This does nothing to build the sport or help women be recognized as serious competitors. People will question how women get into the games and if there is enough rigor behind the process. And they won't have that conversation about men. And that's what sucks.

On the other hand:

You don’t have to be a skier to recognize that she didn’t get to the Olympics on merit or skill. The announcers knew it. The mainstream media knows it (See: Bad American Skier Games The System To Reach PyeongChang on Yahoo Sports). She’s not an idiot - she has to know she’s not on the same level as any athlete that has competed in professional level halfpipe skiing - EVER. But she gave zero fucks and did it anyway and that’s pretty punk rock. For the first time ever - the entire online ski community was able to sit on their couches and say  "I can't believe you're a pro, I'm so much better than you!" and actually mean it. Would McConkey approve?

For more on Swaney’s journey to the Olympics see The Denver Post

What the other athletes had to say about Swaney on The Intellegencer

The Internet backlash on Newschoolers.com

So is Swaney a fraud? A slap in the face of the athletes who have worked so hard to prove that women are serious competitors? An example of what can be accomplished when you really don’t give a fuck?