Kosovo has sent its first athlete—and its first dentist—to the Winter Olympics. After carrying the nation’s flag in the opening ceremonies, Albin Tahiri is competing in all five Alpine skiing events in Pyeongchang, taking 37th place in the men’s combined event on Tuesday.
“It was really icy, so I had a lot of problems. But when I saw the other guys fall out, I decided just to finish it because it’s our first race, and I wanted to finish my first competition at the Olympics,” Tahiri told Reuters.
Tahiri was born and raised in Slovenia. His mother was Slovenian, and his father was a Kosovar-Albanian. Kosovo gained its independence from Serbia in February 2008 and became a full member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014.
“When I started skiing, Kosovo was not an independent country. My father always cheered for Kosovan athletes and I did as well, so when Kosovo proclaimed independence, I wanted to help by representing the country as an athlete,” Tahiri said.
Tahiri recently graduated from dental school and expects to compete a year of internship before embarking on a career in oral surgery, including full mouth reconstruction and dental implants.
“Maybe I’ll fix some things from the skiiers,” he joked with Reuters.
Tahiri next will compete in the men’s downhill event on Thursday.