It should have come as no surprise to see halfpipe skier Elizabeth Swaney, an American representing Hungary at the Winter Olympics, finish last in the qualification round Sunday night - she doesn't do any tricks.
Swaney has been competing in World Cup halfpipe events since 2013 using the simple strategy of not falling down and letting other competitors crash, according to Jason Blevins of The Denver Post.
Due to a small field and the availability of a quota slot - some countries didn't use all of their spots, or gave them up because of injuries to their athletes - Swaney managed to qualify as one of the top 30 skiers for PyeongChang 2018, though skiing officials would like to prevent that in the future.
"The field is not that deep in the women’s pipe and she went to every World Cup, where there were only 24, 25, or 28 women," said veteran FIS judge Steele Spence. "She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last.
"There are going to be changes to World Cup quotas and qualifying to be eligible for the Olympics ... so (that) technically you need to qualify up through the system."
Swaney, a 33-year-old with a graduate degree from Harvard, ran for state governor while she was an undergrad at the University of California at Berkeley (Arnold Schwarzenegger won). She's been training since 2013 with Park City Ski and Snowboard in Utah and can pull off some tricks in training, according to program director Chris Haslock, though she hasn't brought any to competition.
"Her persistence is probably her biggest strength. ... She's an interesting study," Haslock said. "She's got herself in shape. She's really worked out and she's more fit. She's been tenacious. On the risk side of things, we'd like to see her take more risks. We didn't get to do some of the things we wanted."
- With h/t to Sports Illustrated