Pita Taufatofua Came 114th In Skiing, Remains Number One In Our Hearts

2018 Olympics: Tongan flag-bearer finishes 114th out of 116 in cross-country skiing

Tonga's 'topless' skiing novice avoids last place and finishes alongside friends in Pyeongchang

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.

Before the race Taufatofua told the BBC his ambitions were to "finish before they turn the lights off" and not ski into a tree.

Participating in the Winter Olympics is what counts for Tonga's flag bearer Pita Taufatofua.

"We fought together, we finished together".

Well, Taufatofua kept this clothes on for once and ticked both boxes, finishing 114th - nearly 23 minutes behind the gold medallist, Swiss legend Dario Cologna, but crucially avoiding the wooden spoon.

Certainly for Taufatofua it was long, although the dubious honour of finishing last, two spots further back, went to 43-year-old Mexican German Madrazo.

When Madrazo finally reached the finish line, almost a half hour after the first-place finisher completed the race, his four fellow athletes helped him remove his equipment before hoisting the Olympian who had taken up the sport previous year onto their shoulders. Taufatofua does not seem to have made up his mind, although he did hint he may try his hand at a water sport before the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo.

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"I don't know about popular but I'm the coldest man", said the self-confessed beach bum, teeth chattering.

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua competing in the 15km cross country ski race. "I suppose we are fighting for medals here, but it is good to feel this Olympic spirit".

His sense of relief was palpable after he finished in one piece.

When Wolfgramm returned to Tonga, Taufatofua and his friends lined the road to welcome him, with each boy holding a piece of paper with one letter of Wolfgramm's name. If I come last, I'll be happy.

"Please God", the Olympic cross-country skier said to himself, "not in front of everyone".

Head of Sport for the Royal Tonga Ski Federation, Steve Grundmann, said it was a fantastic race by the double Olympian.

"We were racing not to come last but we'll have a good laugh over it over dinner". "Let's see if it can be done". "I've got a few ideas but I can't give you guys all the information".

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