Olympic odds, ends & trends: American-born skier uses ‘loophole,’ completes Average Joe-like run down Olympic halfpipe

Antonio Olivero
Summit Daily
Elizabeth Marian Swaney, of Hungary, runs the course during women's halfpipe qualifying at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb. 19.
Gregory Bull/AP


The high-score awarded to a woman named Elizabeth Marian Swaney during the women’s ski halfpipe qualifying round. Swaney, competing for Hungary, finished in last place of the 24 skiers who competed in the Olympic competition, and her high score was more than 13 points worse than the second-to-last place skier.

The score was also essentially tripled by Canada’s Cassie Sharpe, who posted a 93.40 in qualifying.

If you’re wondering how it’s possible for a competitor to post such a low score, it’s because Swaney used what many are calling a loophole of sorts to punch her ticket to Pyeongchang.

The way the native Californian Swaney did it was by switching her Olympic allegiance to Hungary, by way of a connection through her grandparents, who were born there.

The second part of the loophole equation required Swaney to finish in the top 30 of enough International Ski Federation World Cup halfpipe events in the lead up to the Pyeongchang Games in order to meet the minimum criteria for Olympic inclusion.

The catch, however, is most female ski halfpipe fields are made up of fewer than 30 entrants to begin with, so no matter how poor of a halfpipe skier Swaney was, she was still meeting the minimum criteria of the rulebook via the top 30 FIS World Cup finishes to qualify for Hungary.

So credit to Swaney, an American skier who was nowhere near good enough to qualify as one of the four best female halfpipe skiers for the United States — the Olympics caps the number of individual event entrants from the same country at a maximum of four.

Instead, she gathered an exact understanding of how the Olympic qualification game is played, before she played the game herself.