After 12 weeks of training, tonga skiers performed strongly in the Olympics.
Pita Taufatofua, who lit up the fiery Internet with the tongan flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the pyeongchang winter Olympics, had two goals for his cross-country skiing event on Friday.
They are not sublime – but it makes sense for a man who has been skiing in the snow for three months.
He met two goals in a 15-kilometer cross-country skiing match – effectively beating the other four.
Taufatofua, who competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was also a favorite of the crowd when he wore shirtless at the opening ceremony. He is the first athlete to compete in the summer and winter Olympics. The Pacific islands are located near Fiji and American Samoa, with a population of about 106,000.
In a music publicity video, Taufatofua felt his vision of qualifying for cross-country skiing.
“This is someone who has never dragged a snowboard down from the beach and the coconut trees,” he said. “I think if I can do that, then anyone who follows this journey can achieve whatever they want to achieve.”
Of course, the lack of snow in tonga is an obstacle in his training.
“It’s really hard to learn snow when you don’t have snow,” he told CNN. He was attracted by the tough endurance events. “Our goal is to finish within a year, and we’re done within a year, but it’s not easy.”
Taufatofua, who studies snowboarder video on YouTube, is trying to find ways to mimic the feeling of snow, such as tying a board to a foot, sliding across the beach or using skis. According to his fundraising page, once he gets real snow in Germany, he trains the skis, “it feels like he’s dragging a bag of sweet potatoes on the ground.”
It was tough, he told CNN, adding that the sleigh was “probably the worst thing ever”. He added: “you can’t stop… The only way is to fall, and I’ve learned a lot of hard ways over and over again. One was captured on his Instagram feed:
The strongest part of the experience came from his attempt to participate in the Olympics in January. According to NBC, he was “very relieved” to meet the standards – just a day before the deadline.
“I came in as the last seed,” he said. “If I win the gold medal, I will be very happy, if I last time, I will be very happy, I participated in the Olympic Games, and I brought tonga to the Olympics.”
On Friday he started the nine-mile race, and he certainly looked happy. He didn’t come in at last.
Taufatofua and another participant took selfies during the opening ceremony.
“He looks pretty good, because he’s been skiing all the time,” the NBC announcer said. “Twelve weeks.”
Up and down hills, red metal glasses and red hats, tonga is fighting with fatigue and cold temperatures.
As he made his way to the finish line, he grinned and entered the race at 56:41.1, behind the gold medalist dario corona, 22 minutes and 57 seconds behind.
Taufatofua is faster than Colombian skiers and Mexican skiers, and the other two don’t finish the race at all.
“It has always been to challenge themselves, but also for the next generation of young people from tonga and the Pacific, open the door,” he told CNN. “so they can see beyond their more opportunity is now on contact. ”
His performance at the Rio Olympics was also strong. According to his Olympic profile, he participated in the summer Olympics in taekwondo for the fourth time. He was the first athlete to compete in tonga.
Taufatofua (right) competes with Iran’s sajad mardani in the men’s taekwondo qualification in Rio 2016.
Although he seemed to welcome him for the feat of qualifying for the winter Olympics, he revealed at a recent press conference that he was walking barefoot at the opening ceremony.
“If my ancestors can sail on the Pacific Ocean in one thousand, don’t know where will the next piece of land, don’t know where the next meal will, war, so I can walk 25 minutes according to” Washington post “reported that he was wearing a in the cold cold weather without the opening ceremony of the shirt, representing one thousand years of tradition. (he also points out that coconut oil is better than olive oil for the body.)
Fortunately for all the world’s fans, Taufatofua suggested he think ahead of the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“Maybe water is the next thing,” he said. “Stay tuned.”