Tongan skier, Kasete Naufahu Skeen, has dropped his job and city life in London in an attempt to be Tonga’s first skier to compete in the Winter Olympics.
It may sound like a reality-meets-Cool Runnings scenario, but rest assured, Skeen is treating his campaign with the utmost seriousness.
He is very aware of the fact that Tonga is located in the South Pacific and that the likelihood of snow in his home country is similar to that of raining cats and dogs.
Shock factor aside, however, Skeen is a driven individual and is ready to become the first of his nationality to ski the Winter Olympics’ slopes.
Skeen, formerly an operations manager with the Opera Holland Park Festival in London, admits he has never led an athletic life. In fact, a mere six months ago the skier’s lifestyle habits were much different.
“Until six months ago I smoked, I drank too much, I ate badly and I didn’t exercise at all. But since then I have begun a dramatic transformation that has seen me quit smoking, start exercising, revolutionise my eating habits and loose twenty five kilograms,” he said.
“All in the pursuit of my dream to represent Tonga,” he added.
Born to an English mother and Tongan father, Skeen frequented the ski slopes during holidays in his youth. Now, at 34 years old, he has rediscovered his love for the sport.
What Skeen may lack in experience, he more than makes up for in ambition and drive. The big-haired Tongan has his sights firmly set on the 2018 games in PyeongChang, and will go to all lengths to achieve his goal.
The Tongan man has a mountain to climb, and it starts with a six week intensive training camp in Austria under the watchful eye of former Italian team coach, Hermann Aigner.
Aigner was appointed by the Royal Tonga Ski Federation. He famously led Gustavo Thoeni and Piero Gros to the top of the skiing world. He will coach Skeen throughout his Winter Olympic bid.
Following his Austrian camp, Skeen will compete in International Ski Federation-sanctioned in December. From there he will spend a month in Scandinavia before a move to the Dolomites to train and base himself for competition.
Down the line, Skeen will visit New Zealand for southern hemisphere training, before completing his final preparations at home in Tonga later next year.
Winter Olympic training and preparation doesn’t come without its expense.
To support his campaign financially, Skeen has turned to PledgeSports, an organisation who provide a sports funding and commercial sports sponsorship platform for athletes like Skeen aiming to raise money to help achieve their ambitions.
Skeen’s target over the next two months is to raise £10,000. One week into his crowdfunding campaign with PledgeSports, he has raised almost £3,000.
In creating a crowdfunding campaign with PledgeSport, Skeen has offered rewards to those who make contributions of a certain value.
The rewards include a live Q&A session, Tongan skier clothing, having your name printed on Skeen’s helmet for the 2016/17 season, and a hand-written postcard from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
If you wish to support Kasete Naufahu Skeen’s dream of skiing for Tonga at the 2018 Winter Olympics, you can do so at the following link – https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/tongan-skier-on-the-road-to-pyeongchang-2018/
You can also follow Skeen’s journey to PyeongChang 2018 through his WordPress blog at the following link – www.tonganskier.wordpress.com