Skip to main content

Shirtless Tongan Flag-Bearer Qualifies for Winter Olympics

Pita Taufatofua qualified for Pyeongchang in cross-country skiing. 

Get this man a jacket.

Pita Taufatofua, the guy you probably know for carrying Tonga’s flag at the Rio Olympics while shirtless and dripping with coconut oil, qualified Saturday for the Winter Olympics as a cross-country skier, reports the Wall Street Journal

He had never been on skis before last year and made the Olympics on the last day he could have made himself eligible. If named to the team — he likely will be since he's the only one — he'd be the first Tongan skier in Winter Olympics history.

Taufatofua​even drove more than two hours through a blizzard in the Arctic Circle to get to the final race attempt in Isafjordur, Iceland. If that's not commitment to your sport, nothing is. 

Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in Rio where he was eliminated from the tournament in his first match. He announced four months later that he was giving cross-country skiing a shot with the hope of qualifying for the Pyeongchang games. (The Journal has chronicled his journey extensively.)

It was as improbable as it sounds since he lives in Brisbane, Australia, where there is no snow. Instead of driving long hours to a ski resort in the winter, he worked out on the beach, skating on roller-skates.

As the Journal explains, Taufatofua took advantage of an Olympic loophole that didn’t even require him to ski on snow. Qualification points earned in roller-ski races can be applied for cross-country skiing and Taufatofua nearly qualified on that basis alone. But with no more roller-ski races on the schedule and the Olympics looming, Taufatofuaneeded a race on snow. 

Here's seeing whether the cold really stops his shirtless antics.