Winter games: Tongan keeps clothes on, finishes 114th

Winter games: Tongan keeps clothes on, finishes 114th

Winter games: Tongan keeps clothes on, finishes 114th

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua crosses the finish line during the men's 15km cross country freestyle at the Alpensia cross country ski centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang.

After spending only 12 weeks on snow in his life, having seen snow for the first time two years ago, Taufatofua finished third last, almost 23 minutes behind the gold medallist.

First famous for his shirtless appearance as a flag-bearer at the 2016 Summer Games, the 34-year-old Australian-native reprised his oily role at South Korea's Opening Ceremony despite single-digit temperatures.

Tonga flagbearer Pita Taufatofua knows he's not Winter Olympics medal material, but he hopes to inspire the next generation of Pacific athletes.

"Everyone was at the front racing to come first, we were racing not to come last, but we'll have a good laugh over dinner".

The elite of cross-country skiing was well-represented in the field, but there were plenty of racers from nations not normally associated with winter sports, including Brazil, Mexico and Ireland, and Taufatofua was happy to be in their company.

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"We fought together, we finished together".

"I would rather finish toward the end of the pack with all of my friends than somewhere in the middle by myself", said Taufatofua, who took up the sport past year after competing in taekwondo at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. He plans to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but wouldn't say in what sport. While one of his main goals was not to "ski into a tree", Taufatofua's focus was elsewhere. "We fought together, we finish together". "I made it to the Olympics, and I got Tonga to the Olympics".

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

Madrazo was greeted by fellow competitor, including his some-time training partner, Taufatofua, the second-last finisher - Sebastian Uprimny of Colombia - and silver medallist Simen Hegstad Kruger of Norway.

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

"The guys who play in the finals for the World Cup, when they go into the stadium with that roar - I think it's the same thing only this was way better". "Let's see if it can be done".

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