Who deserves to be in the Olympics?

Elizabeth Marian Swaney, of Hungary, runs the course during the women's halfpipe qualifying at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. –Associated Press/Kin Cheung

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — How you feel about Elizabeth Swaney likely depends upon what you believe the Olympics should be and who should be in them. If you feel that the Games should be reserved for the planet’s best athletes then you probably think that Swaney is a country-shopper who gamed the system to collect a ticket that she didn’t deserve.

If you feel that the Olympics should be open to anyone from anywhere who has the determination to find her way to the starting line then you probably think that Swaney is a persistent plugger who has every right to chase her dreams as long as she’s drug-free and meets the standard.


Swaney, of course, is the American freestyle halfpipe skier who competes for Hungary and who finished dead last in this week’s qualifying round with a routine that was so elementary as to be laughable. Whether she belonged here is debatable. But what is beyond doubt is that the 33-year-old Harvard grad from Oakland played by the rules and earned her way here.

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