SOCHI, May 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing a white-blue-red ice hockey uniform - colours of the Russian tricolour - has hit the ice in the Night Ice Hockey League final underway at the Bolshoi Ice Palace in the Olympic Park of the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"It is a fantastic project backed by hundreds of thousands and, perhaps, even by millions of our compatriots," Putin said at a gala ceremony before the game.
The president thanked celebrated ice hockey players for the project.
"Thank you for supporting the project with your authority and with your names as you help sport admirers all over the country to mature, to get a start in life and to lead a healthy lifestyle," Putin said congratulating the League champions and awarding them.
The festival is timed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin could hit the ice during this year's Night Hockey League festival.
Putin had proved his sporting skill when amateur teams gathered for last year's event, a tournament created to promote the amateur game with support from the president and veteran players. And the game still thrills the head of state, said the presidential spokesman.
But putting on the skates was a matter for the president alone to decide on, Peskov said. "This cannot be ruled out, but it is up to him to take the final decision," he said.
Russia’s president is not a beginner in ice hockey. However, known as a martial art follower, being 60-year-old he had promised to young athletes that he would master skates and a stick. Putin said he did it for backing up national ice hockey but admitted his first steps on the ice were rather clumsy.
"I was thinking about grasping the banking boards not to fall," he said then.
Since then, Putin has played in several games of the Night Ice Hockey League. In 2012 he hit the ice just hours after his inauguration.
Along with this, the Russian president invited some politicians to ‘clash’ on the ice, for instance, the presidents of Finland and Belarus.
The Fourth Night Ice Hockey League for amateurs kicked off in Sochi on May 9 through May 16.