Moscow & St. Petersburg: If You Like Ice Skating

Perhaps naturally for a wintry place like Russia, the most popular sport is ice-skating. The entire country is glued to the TV during ice-skating tournaments, to witness Russians winning ever more medals.

It seems that almost everything becomes a skating rink in Russia in winter. While the big freeze is on, iced-over ponds in city parks, outdoor stadiums and playgrounds, and brand-new ice palaces all welcome inexhaustible flocks of skaters.

As usual, there’s a downside. Thanks to street-cleaning services that sometimes fail to complete the job, a surprise skating excursion could happen at any time. Cases of broken arms and legs leap dramatically during the snowy season. Snow boots, or shoes with nonslip rubber soles are strongly advised. Leather can be lethal.

Gorky Park, Moscow. However gloomy and forbidding this place may sound from the novel of that name by Martin Cruz Smith, the picturesque park, packed with skating rinks, cafés, and other entertainment is Moscow’s top venue for a family day out.

Moscow Ice Ballet. Russia’s answer to “Stars On Ice” is famous for adapting classical ballets, fairy tales, and even drama for the ice.

Moscow Circus on the Ice. Under threat in the Arctic, the polar bears on ice here are in good shape and are both elegant and loads of fun. (photo, top)

The Cup of Russia, St. Petersburg. Part of ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, this prestigious international competition is held every December.