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Tokyo Olympics 2020

Olympic skier who became an internet sensation for mediocrity: I didn't scam my way into the games

Key Points
  • Hungarian freeskier Elizabeth Swaney says she was "striving to achieve" the level of an Olympic skier.
  • Swaney's less-than-stellar halfpipe runs at the Winter Games went viral.
Skier Elizabeth Swaney defends her Olympic placement

Hungarian freeskier Elizabeth Swaney, under heavy criticism about her qualifications to even compete in the Winter Games, told CNBC on Wednesday she was "striving to achieve" the level of an Olympic skier.

Swaney, actually born and raised in the U.S., became an internet sensation on Monday when she came in last place in the women's ski halfpipe for Team Hungary.

Viewers were perplexed and captivated to see the 33-year-old's less-than-stellar performance and her inability to complete even the most basic tricks like her competitors.

In an interview from Pyeongchang, South Korea, Swaney said she is capable of landing several high-flying tricks on waterski ramps, such as frontflips, backflips and 360s.

"I have all the skills that I need to be a great competitor at the World Cup level," she told "Squawk on the Street." "I just haven't been comfortable enough yet to land those tricks on snow."

Swaney — whose grandparents are from Hungary, allowing her to compete for that country — was able to land a spot on the team through a loophole. Swaney met the requirements of the International Ski Federation, which governs the sport, by finishing in the top 30 at certain World Cup events that had less than 30 competitors and scoring a minimum number of points.

Some have suggested Swaney's participation in the games is a scam.

However, Swaney told CNBC she doesn't understand the criticism, citing her participation in the World Cup over the last two years. "I just didn't perform my best at the Olympics."

Still, Swaney has gained a strong reaction from Twitter:

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