PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua joked that he has two immediate goals when he competes in his first Winter Olympic event on Friday: Don’t hit a tree and finish before they turn off the lights.

The medal podium is far from the mind of the “shirtless” Tongan, who qualified for the cross-country event despite having taken up the sport less than a year ago and having spent less than 12 weeks of his life on snow.

The 34-year-old Taufatofua said his real long-term goal is to inspire others from the South Pacific to give the Olympics a shot. He’s doing a good job so far as one of a very few athletes to compete in the Summer and Winter Games.

“I won’t medal on Friday, but in four years someone from Tonga might, in eight years someone from the Pacific might,” Taufatofua said. “These kids who are watching now, they’ll have access to something they never knew existed before.”

You’ve probably heard about – or at least seen – Taufatofua by now.

He became a TV and internet hit in 2016 when he walked shirtless into the opening ceremony at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro carrying the Tongan flag, his bare chest oiled up, showing off his muscular physique.

He didn’t fare so well in taekwondo at those games, losing his first match 19-1.

But shortly after that, the persistent Taufatofua decided to make a run at qualifying for the Winter Games – even though it almost never snows where he comes from. He took up cross-country skiing because he said it was the most challenging of all Olympic events, training on roller skies at home and in Australia.

FIGURE SKATING: Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot jumped from fourth place to Olympic gold in pairs figure skating after a record-setting free skate.

Savchenko and Massot scored 159.31 points in their program, which gave them 235.90 points overall. It is Germany’s first pairs gold since 1952.

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong were the leaders coming into the day but slipped to silver. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford earned bronze.

MEN’S SNOWBOARDCROSS: Pierre Vaultier of France barely qualified for the final after crashing during the semifinals but recovered to win his second Olympic gold medal.

Australia’s Jarryd Hughes won silver and Spain’s Regino Hernandez got bronze.

Austrian snowboarder Markus Schairer, 30, broke the fifth cervical vertebra in his neck during a frightening fall in the men’s quarterfinals.

After he was examined at a hospital, the Austrian Olympic Committee announced that he had suffered no neurological issues and was in stable condition.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Norway’s Ragnhild Haga won her first gold medal in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle, topping the field by more than 20 seconds.

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla won silver and Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Finland’s Krista Parmakoski finished tied for bronze.

SPEEDSKATING: Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada won the 10,000 meters in an Olympic-record time of 12 minutes, 39.77 seconds.

Defending champion Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands took silver in 12:41.99 and Nicola Tumolero of Italy earned bronze in 12:54.32.

MEN’S BIATHLON: Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe won his first gold medal of the Winter Games in the 20-kilometer race after the world’s top biathlete, Frenchman Martin Fourcade, surprisingly missed on his final two shots. Slovania’s Jakov Fak took home the silver. Austrian Dominik Landertinger earned bronze.

LUGE: Germany won the team relay. The German team of Natalie Geisenberger, Johannes Ludwig and the doubles pairing of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt prevailed in 2 minutes, 24.517 seconds.

Canada won silver and Austria won bronze.

MEN’S HOCKEY: Rene Bourque and Wojtek Wolski each scored twice and Derek Roy had three assists as Canada opened its Olympic campaign with a 5-1 win over Switzerland.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.