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Pita Taufatofua Avoids Finishing Last in Cross-Country Skiing

Image: Pita Taufatofua Avoids Finishing Last in Cross-Country Skiing
Pita Taufatofua of Tonga competes during the Cross-Country Skiing Men's 15km Free at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on Feb. 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 16 February 2018 05:42 PM

Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan famous for his oiled, shirtless appearance in the Olympic opening ceremonies at the summer games in 2016 and at Pyeongchang despite freezing temperatures, avoided finishing last in the 15m cross-country skiing event Friday.

The 34-year-old finished 114th out of 119, more than 22 minutes behind gold medalist Dario Cologna of Switzerland. But he had only trained on snow for 12 weeks to enter the contest, and he met his professed goals of finishing the course, not falling, and not coming in last, CNN reported.  

Taufatofua competed in Taekwondo at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and said at the time that he wanted to find a sport to compete in for the 2018 Winter Games. He and several other athletes such as German Madrazo of Mexico, who finished last, traveled to Armenia, Poland, Turkey and Austria attempting to qualify for the games. They finally qualified in Iceland, and had become friends in their travels, ESPN reported.

“Pita and I spent two months, fighting and fighting every day,” Madrazo said, ESPN reported. “One day we were completely out of money and we had one last chocolate bar. There was nothing left and we split that chocolate bar and said, ‘Well brother, we live to fight another day.’”

“I would rather finish toward the end of the pack with all of my friends than somewhere in the middle by myself,” Taufatofua said, ESPN reported. “We fought together, we finish together.” 

“I think it’s good to have many skiers from many countries here,” Cologna said, ESPN reported. “I think we have around 60 nations. I suppose we are fighting for medals here, but it is good to feel this Olympic spirit.”  

Taufatofua said he plans to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but doesn’t yet know what sport, ESPN reported. “Three Olympics, three different sports,” he said. “Let’s see if it can be done.”

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan famous for his oiled, shirtless appearance in the Olympic opening ceremonies, avoided finishing last in the 15m cross-country skiing event Friday after he trained for only 12 weeks on snow.
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Friday, 16 February 2018 05:42 PM
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