Ice-skating in subtropics

During Russia's long, cold winters ice-hockey has always been a popular sport. In the Black Sea resort of Sochi, however, the warm climate and the nearby sea mean residents rarely come into contact with ice – until now, when they can swap sanda

When an ice rink opened in Sochi almost a year ago, a lot of people doubted it would be a success. Local residents have taken to the novelty and have swapped their flip flops for skates and now they have a hockey tea.

Most of the players are not originally from Sochi. In their childhood they actually had ice and snow. Maybe that's why some feel more relaxed during the game.

“To find all the equipment is really hard we cannot even have a second goalkeeper. No uniform. It's too expensive,” confessed Aleksey Medvedev, a hockey player from Sochi.

This year for the first time in the history of Sochi, they will have a junior team and one for the very little ones.

“In Sochi this is still an exotic sport. We have a small city, and it is not used to hockey. All we used to have are skies and a snowboard,” added local resident Igor. He was a professional player. Now he plays hockey at night, and teaches skating during the day.

Some are taking their first steps, for others it has already become a regular hobby, a favourite dating place and also an escape from the hot sun and rainy days. And for someone who first stepped on ice less than six months ago it looks like a natural born skill.

“It's easy, you just get on the skates, and it just happens,” said Vlad who is 14 years old.