The Winter Olympics are in full swing, and there have been some spectacular moments in all the events. But not all performances are created equal. Meet Elizabeth "Liz" Swaney (MDes '09), an Olympic freestyle skier. She went viral recently after a half-pipe run in which she performed almost no tricks, ultimately finishing last in the 24-woman field. With that skillset, how did Swaney ever manage to qualify for the Olympics? Here’s how, with classic Harvard finesse.
Find the gem class—er, event
In order to qualify for an Olympic competition, the contender must finish in the top 30 of the corresponding World Cup events. It seems that the half-pipe doesn’t even attract 30 entries most of the time, so Swaney was able to make the cut by consistently showing up to these unfilled events.
Exploit the loopholes
Interestingly, Swaney was representing Hungary during this Olympics. It turns out that there is a special Hungarian team rule that reapportions spots on the team in order to balance the number of men and women. With this provision, Swaney was able to get a spot on the team.
Do the bare minimum
Without doing any tricks apart from an occasional 180 degree spin, Swaney did manage to complete all clean runs. After coming in last with a whopping 31.40 out of 100, she told the Associated Press that she “didn’t qualify for finals so [she is] really disappointed.”
Some say that Swaney did not take the Olympics seriously, while others praised her for her perseverance in qualifying for a huge event. Whatever the case, she took this challenge on with true Harvard spirit, and Flyby wishes her the best of luck on her future endeavors.