Putin dons hockey skates in latest fitness stunt

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin skates as he takes part in a training session for young ice hockey players before the start of the "Golden Puck" youth tournament final in Moscow. (REUTERS)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin donned skates for an ice hockey training session on Friday in the latest in a series of stunts which help to keep his approval ratings high.

Putin, who has hinted he may run for the presidency in March 2012 elections, regularly seeks to portray his physical fitness. A black belt in judo, he has been shown barechested on horseback and swimming butterfly across a Siberian river.

On Friday he took part in a 40-minute session with two teenage ice hockey teams, emerging from a Moscow rink sweating and breathing heavily.

"It is ... a very energy-consuming sport, and from my point of view, it is less traumatic than football," Putin, 58, told reporters.

Putin said he had last tried skating in his youth and did not like it. "My legs went apart at once and I decided this sport was not for me, but now I like it very much," he said.

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