Watching the Olympics this year, I am at once utterly impressed by what humans can do, and at the same time, I am utterly depressed because people the same age as I am are off winning Olympic medals when the only token of accomplishment I have is a dollar store ribbon from a track meet in elementary school. Considering the amount of awe that Olympic athletes usually inspire, freestyle skier Elizabeth Swaney’s performance in the women’s halfpipe event was underwhelming, to say the least. In fact, I almost bust a lung listening to the commentary on her run.
“We have yet to see a trick,” the commentator said. “But she is pumpin’ that thing up and down, getting that speed and having a good time!”
You will have to watch the video yourself to get the full effect, but I can assure you it is one of the least satisfying things I have ever seen.
According to The New York Times, Swaney has been striving toward skiing at the Olympics since 2010 when she attended the Vancouver Olympics and was “inspired by the skiers.” She knew, however, that she would be unable to make Team USA, so she set out to find a different way to realize her Olympic dream. For the past two years, Swaney has been slowly gaining qualifying points by competing in every World Cup event with less than 30 competitors and not coming in dead last. Eventually, she found herself at the Pyeongchang Olympics representing Hungary, the country where her grandparents were born. Swaney was out of the running for a medal following the qualifying rounds after receiving a legendary 31.40 points out of 100, but those 31.40 points were scored at the Olympics, and judging by her smile at the end of the aforementioned video, that is all that mattered to her. Though Swaney did not seem to possess anywhere near the amount of athletic skill that I am used to Olympians demonstrating, I suppose getting into the Olympics as she did is quite a feat in itself. Perhaps mediocrity has a place in this world after all. Swaney has given me hope.