Play Hockey Or Go Diving?
A recently held ice hockey tournament in Kuzbass pitted three man teams against each others. Participants from Kemerovo, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, Novokuznetsk, Tomsk, and Yurga competed in the event. While ice hockey events held on the frozen lakes in Siberia are common this one was a little unusual. First instead of placing a net on the ice to use as a goal the organizers cut two triangular shaped holes in the ice to serve as the goals. The goals were placed 15 meters apart. Instead of time periods, the first score won the game. The puck was lighter than regulation because it needed to float when it went into the water. Another difference this tournament had was that the players did not use skates, they stood on the ice. Oh, and they played on the bottom surface of the ice not the top. That means they had to play upside down. Look at the exhaust bubbles in the photographs and video.
The tournament was organized by a local dive center. The players were ice divers who played the game with their feet on the ice. Many ice divers enjoy the challenge of getting their balance just perfect to be able to walk upside down on the ice. These divers not only needed to be in control to walk upside down but also able to play the game. They used standard hockey sticks to hit the puck in their attempts to score. “At first you are disoriented, but then you quickly get used to that,” said Roman Vytavtov, the diving center manager who organized the event. He added: “We really liked this game and are planning to invite other teams from various Siberia regions to have an official tournament next year.”
Underwater hockey is not new, in many places there are underwater hockey teams; however, they just adapted ice hockey to the pool with the floor of the pool the playing field. So there is no ice really involved. In 2007, an underwater ice hockey world championship was held in Austria, but the second event was not held until 2013. Those events were by swimmer however and did not have the intensity of the scuba diving version. While much more dangerous, the players had to return to the hole in the ice every thirty seconds to get a breath.
Siberia has long very cold winter and short summers so it is not a place you normally think of for scuba diving. There are however a number of dive shops and lake diving is popular. At the end of last year, the tourism department had a campaign featuring bikini clad models inviting people to visit for the white beaches (no sand) and other activities.