Meet the Russians

Why are Russians so good at winter sports?

Russian winter sports

I am always filled with pride and joy for the Russians and their dazzling performance at the Winter Olympics. They do well at Alpine skiing, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding etc. etc. And although Russians suck at football, they have a very strong ice hockey team. Is this a natural gift to be good at winter sports or is it part of the Russian DNA? It’s all much simpler than that. What else can you do when on average you have 6 to 8 months of winter?

When I was 6 my parents bought me my first pair of skies, when I turned 7 I asked for a pair of white ice skates for my birthday. And this happens pretty much in every Russian family. Schools also heavily promote winter sports. In fact, every PE class usually takes place outside (unless it’s -30°C) where pupils have country-skiing and ice-skating competitions.

My grandmother is a bit of a health freak coupled up with her teacher personality. She used to always drag me off the sofa to do different activities. One of them was cross-country skiing where we’d ski in the countryside for miles and miles. Kids also enjoy sledging, but instead of a dog or a horse, they are tugged along by their exhausted parents. Sliding down an icy slope was another thing I really loved as a child.

I never felt brave enough to try Alpine skiing even though Russia has an abundance of slopes all different shapes and sizes. The closest I got was snowboarding. Here’s a picture of me in a snowbank resting after hours of practising.

After moving to London I haven’t been able to do any winter sports due to the absence of snow. In fact, if you wish to go ice-skating, for example, the place will be packed with people gliding on the slightly melting ice. England can’t really boast a great winter sports itinerary with rains and winds all year round and very little snow.

My recent ice-skating fail, where I fell face down on the ice and injured my nose while attempting long forgotten spins, proved that I’d lost my edge. Somehow in England I feel like living my life in a more ladylike manner. I’ve taken up piano lessons and developed a taste for classical music, fine art and books. What’s more, the English winter is too gentle. You can just go out for a walk or do lots of interesting indoor activities while enjoying a drink with a friend. When you are out and about in Russia staying warm is a must.

If you are already thinking of going to Russia for a winter break there are plenty of ski resorts for you to explore. Rosa Khutor, based in Sochi, or Sheregesh, situated in the heart of Siberia, can be your starting point. And I can assure you that every Russian city boasts a great ski resort. Enjoy!

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