Even the burliest, most robust of athletes takes a tumble now and then. Even when the manly man in question is the president of Russia.
At least Vladimir Putin was wearing a shirt.
The president, known for shirtless horseback riding, polar-bear hugging and a love of competitive judo, went boom during a gala for the Night Hockey League, an amateur organization the president founded in 2011 to promote sports in Russia. As is usually the case, there are tons of photos of Putin skating, shooting and, because it’s Putin’s show, winning. (His teams are undefeated in these matches.) On Tuesday night in Sochi, however, the president clearly was off his game — tallying only one goal, two assists and one embarrassing tumble to the ice.
The game ended in a 9-5 victory for Putin’s team, but, Quartz notes that, “by his standards, Putin had a bad game. Last year, following a mysterious extended absence for possible medical reasons, the president showed no ill effects when he scored eight goals in May and seven in October. And who can forget his six-goal, five-assist tour de force in 2014?”
Indeed. But that was then. Quartz suggests that Putin, now 63, may be transitioning to more of a supportive role, at least on the ice.
For aging athletes, there comes a time when they must rely on experience instead of physical ability, adding value by creating chances for others instead of scoring for themselves. Putin’s latest performance suggests that he now may be adopting this more selfless role. But don’t expect it to extend off the ice—he isn’t exactly known for sharing the spotlight.