Musgrave seeks cross country breakthrough medal in same race as Tongan showman

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Andrew Musgrave will not have a half-naked Tongan to contend with when he bids to become the first Briton to win an Olympic medal on snow at the Alpensia Cross Country Centre.

Competition rules state that Pita Taufatofua, who will make his debut in the sport after switching from his Summer Games stint in taekwondo, must cover up the oiled torso which has made him a worldwide sensation.

Rule 2.4 of the FIS handbook states that cross-country athletes must wear starting bibs which are made from “100% polyester/interlock or 100% polyester knitwear (meshed or non-meshed)”.

Pita Taufatofua
Tongan Pita Taufatofua will make his Olympic cross-country debut in Pyeongchang on Friday (Mike Egerton/PA)

But the 34-year-old admitted at a standing room only press conference prior to his only event at the Games that he was unlikely to follow the noble example set by Musgrave in excelling at a sport which is usually the sole preserve of the nordic nations.

Taufatofua said: “My first step is to finish before they turn the lights off. Don’t ski into a tree.

Taufatofua will certainly not trouble Musgrave, who has emerged as a genuine medal contender after placing an impressive seventh in the men’s 30km skiathlon on Sunday.

The 27-year-old, who could become the first Briton to win a medal on skis, is established as one of the top athletes from a non-Nordic nation and said he welcomed the move to spread the sport to more unlikely corners of the globe.

Musgrave said: “I think it’s good for the sport that athletes from less traditional nations get to do cross-country skiing and get to go to the Olympics.

“I don’t know much about him but if he’s come through qualifying and he has qualified for the Games, then good luck to him.

“I don’t think I could ever done what he’s done in reverse and switch from winter to summer sports. I’m not very good at anything else, to be honest. My hand-eye co-ordination is absolutely useless.”

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