Until the very oily, shirtless Pita Taufatofua made his debut during the 2016 Rio Olympic Opening Ceremonies, many viewers couldn’t tell you were the island of Tonga was located. But the Tongan flag-bearer and taekwondo competitor put his country on the map after setting Twitter ablaze with his appearance. Now the shiny Olympian is trying to qualify for next month’s 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Taekwondo competitor is now a cross country skier, after losing only to Iranian Sajjad Mardani in the Summer Olympics. Following that defeat in Rio, Taufatofua set out to pick up a new sport in order to qualify for the winter games.
After a bit of research, the oily fighter left his island and headed to Germany to learn how to ski. "My research process was really limited, because I’m an impulsive sort of guy," he told The Journal. "That looks hard, I’m going to do that. That looks impossible, that’s where I need to be. Cross-country looks like there’s no way I can do it in a year — therefore I have to do it in a year."
After only a year of training in his new sport, Taufatofua met the necessary qualification time on four occasions. He only needs to meet it one more time to land a spot at the Winter Olympics in Korea. Before 2016, Taufatofua never competed in the snow, but hopes to "make history for Tonga."
"I don't fear failure," he said. "I fear not trying."
If he does make it into the competition, chances are he’ll have to wear a shirt and leave the massage oil at home, but judging from this photo on his Instagram where Taufatofua is walking shirtless in the snow, there's still hope.