Come for the Shirtless Tongan, stay for Super Dario.
Dario Cologna, of Switzerland, won his third straight Olympic gold medal in the men’s 15km individual Friday at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Cologna is the first male cross-country skier to win three gold medals in one event. It’s his first medal of the PyeongChang Games and fourth career Olympic medal – all gold.
The gold also moves Cologna into a tie with Sixten Jernberg of Sweden for the most Olympic medals in the 15km individual.
“It was not too bad – it was just amazing,” Cologna said. “It was really hard work and I really wanted to win again here after Vancouver and Sochi. Three times in this event and four gold medals.
“Now I am together with Simon Ammann, the only Swiss who won four times in the Olympics. To write a little bit of history, it is not bad.”
Norwegian skier Simen Hegstad Krueger captured the silver medal, finishing 18.3 seconds behind Cologna. It’s Krueger’s second medal of the PyeongChang Games. He won gold in the 30km skiathlon in what many have called the Miracle on Snow.
Denis Spitsov took home the bronze medal, closing 23 seconds behind Cologna. It’s his first medal of these Games.
Spitsov, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, is one of the two skiers who collided with Krueger during the skiathlon at the opening gate. While Krueger methodically climbed to gold in the skiathlon, Spitsov just missed the podium.
Now, he shares the podium with Kreuger in the 15km freestyle.
Pita Taufatofua, an Internet sensation known as the Shirtless Tongan for his refusal to wear shirts during the Opening Ceremony both at the Rio and PyeongChang, participated in his first Olympic cross-country skiing.
Taufatofua departed the starting gate at 1:55 a.m. EST as the 110th skier and accomplished his goal of not hitting a tree and finishing the race before the arena turned the lights off.
Both missions were successful. Taufatofua finished the race in 56 minutes, 41.1 seconds. He came in 114 out of 116 skiers who finished.
The rules of Ricky Bobby – if you ain’t first, you’re last – don’t apply to the Shirtless Tongan, who took up cross-country skiing less than a year ago and is one of a few athletes to take part in both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.
Taufatofua participated in taekwondo during the 2016 Rio Olympics, and before the men’s 15km individual Friday, he said he might give another sport a try – perhaps something in the water, he said – in the 2020 Toyko Games.
Up next for cross-country skiing is the women’s 4x5km relay Saturday at 4:30 a.m. EST.