Trickless Swaney just like Eddie the Eagle, says IOC
Pyeongchang, Feb 21 (AFP) Freestyle skier Elizabeth Swaney was compared to Eddie the Eagle today as an Olympics official defended her trickless performance in the halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
American-born Swaney, representing Hungary via her mother, turned heads when she performed only basic turns without attempting any tricks in qualifying runs on Monday, when she finished dead last.
Swaney's showing raised questions about her qualification for the Olympics via a loophole. But International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the 33-year-old deserved her place at the top table of winter sports.
"If you're British you'll know the story of Eddie the Eagle, who soared into everyone's hearts," said Adams. "Not making the best sporting performance but he took part in an elite competition.
"There is a proper system for qualification and we'll continue to keep that, but we also need to leave the door open for universality because that's what separates this event from a normal sporting event."
In 1988, Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards became Britain's first Olympic ski jump competitor in 60 years, finishing last in both his events.
"The Olympic Games are about universality, about reaching out around the world. They are also about elite sport," Adams said.
"The two can go together and we saw a really good case there (Swaney). It's a great story, she has a great story to tell, I think, which everyone really, really appreciates."
According to reports, Swaney turned up at several World Cup events where there were fewer than 30 competitors, helping her reach the Olympic qualifying standard by finishing among the top 30.
Cassie Sharpe, gold medal winner in the freestyle halfpipe, defended Swaney.
"I mean, we all know Elizabeth. We've seen her at every World Cup, she's come to do her qualification process for her country," Sharpe said.
"She's put in the time to be at these events. I think, just with the process of her country, she made the cut, she deserves to be here as much as anybody else.
"I feel like she put in the time to do what she wanted to do to be an Olympian