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How to Stay in Shape by Watching Celebrity Ice Hockey
By Linda Lippner

Moscows late winter snow and ice had been a perfect excuse for me to stay at home and forget about exercising. Why walk to the gym through all that hazardous material on the streets, when I can walk to the kitchen and fix myself a nice hot chocolate with melted marshmallows on top. Ive decided Ill wait until spring really arrives to start an exercise regimen, when only the snow from the poplar trees makes it hazardous to walk on the streets.

Believe it or not, I had colleagues at my of fice who were running on late winter ice as they got ready for some 1,000k marathon somewhere in Europe. And I listened to discussions among these exercise addicts about which running shoe is better on ice and snow, and which one protects from frostbite as they took hour long jogs along the frozen Moscow River on their well-exercised toes. My concern would be frostbite on all parts of my body and the very real chance of slipping right into the river as I skid on a particularly nasty piece of black ice. I fantasize that since the river is more or less frozen in the winter; I wouldnt drow, but could continue my jog down below the embankment.

And so my idea of a good athletic time during those late winter days turned out to be watching others engage in sports. Earlier this winter I had an excellent chance to watch the best, and the less than best but very willing, duke it out on an indoor hockey rink on the outskirts of Moscow. A celebrity ice hockey tournament was planned by former NHL and Soviet hockey stars who are retired and willing to fly to Moscow for a bit of ice hockey competition. And then what fun to recruit a few business oligarchs, Duma members, a Deputy Prime Minister, and even a Deputy Chief CEO of Gazprom to compete and see if they have the Right Stuff. The sports fans were enthusiastic and many of us reminisced about former games in Detroit, NYC or Toronto. Of course, more serious matches also include all-out blood on the ice brawls. These guys and one girl (yes a business woman made it out on the ice!) were hockey-polite with gentle checking into the boards and some penalty box transgressions, but who really wants to bash away at the Deputy Prime Minister under Putin before the 08 elections, or put the future of Gazprom at risk by sidelining a deputy CEO?

No one had to worry about frostbite on these nicely iced rinks, and I was offered hot chocolate as good as in my own kitchen. Hockey pucks were flying, but hockey sticks were discreetly kept close to the ice. And finally, I had a great idea for next winter: buy an air hockey game and get a little exercise smacking away at a hockey puck just like the big guys on the ice!

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