Gaming the Winter Games
Elizabeth Swaney put on one of the most unbelievable showings in Olympic history—and not in a good way, said Davy Rothbart in The California Sunday Magazine. Swaney, a Hungarian-American from Oakland, was a late addition to the Hungarian halfpipe skiing team for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. She started her run and, bizarrely, barely tried any tricks, calmly skiing up and down the ramp before triumphantly pumping her fists. Her score? One of the worst in the sport’s Olympic history. Video of her run went viral, and she was skewered for appearing to make a mockery of the competition. But Swaney, now 34, enjoys being out of her depth. At 19, she ran for governor of California, losing to Arnold Schwarzenegger. She’s auditioned to be an NBA and NFL cheerleader, and trained in archery, gymnastics, piano, and flute. “I might not become the best in the world at it,” she says, “but I’ll learn how the people who are the best in the world are doing it.” She qualified for the Olympics by gaming the system: World rankings are based on points that skiers accumulate at qualifying events around the world. Swaney attended all of them, netting a few points each time for her simplistic routine. Her widely mocked Olympic performance didn’t leave her the least bit embarrassed. “I’m always trying to do my best,” she says, shrugging.