Hottie Pita Taufatofua goes shirtless at the Olympic Games, whether it be sun and sand, or snow and shine. Less than two years after totally grabbing our attention when he walked shirtless, oiled-up and confident into the opening ceremony of the Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Taufatofua was showing off his perfect pecs again when he carried the Tongan flag into the opener of the Winter Games in PyeongChang on Friday.
Taufatofua competed in Taekwondo at the Summer Games in Rio. This year he is competing in cross-country skiing, despite being from Tonga, a tropical south Pacific island nation where it doesn’t snow.
A twist on the popular film Cool Runnings (1993), based on the true story of the Jamaica national bobsleigh team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, tropical Taufatofua has qualified for the Cross Country Skiing event at the Winter Olympics.
Amazing because Taufatofua only saw snow for the first time in his life two years ago.
”After Rio I decided to find the hardest sport possible, because I needed a new challenge, and the hardest sport possible was cross country skiing. You know look at the conditions, it’s like freezing, it’s negative a million degrees, and then you’ve got to put your body through something really challenging.”
Always up for a challenge, Taufatofua left it until the very last day of the qualification period to reach the requirements for the Pyeongchang Games.
”The goal was to do it in one year. And we did it in one year. 20 years I sacrificed to become a summer Olympian, and one year to become a winter Olympian.”
Taufatofua is just the second Tongan to participate at a Winter Olympics:
”You know everyone looks at Tonga as this little dot in the Pacific. Not any more. Everyone’s going to know where Tonga is. For those that missed it in Rio, you guys are going to know where Tonga is now.”
Taufatofua began by practicing on roller blades in Tonga before training on snow slopes in New Zealand and Canada.
”This is only special if it inspires somebody else to become something bigger than themselves.”