In the summer, many Russians who live in the city spend their weekends and holidays at a dacha, or country retreat. A dacha is a small, unheated wooden cottage with a large garden. Children swim and play, while adults fish, swim or tend to the garden. In the winter, when it is too cold to visit the unheated dachas, people remain in the city.

Outdoor ice-skating is a popular pastime for people of all ages. In the winter, frozen ponds or flooded artificial rinks attract crowds of skaters. Ice skating is one of Russia’s most important competitive sports. Russians won gold medals in the pairs, ice dancing and men’s singles competitions at the Winter Olympics in 1994 and again in 1998.

Russians are also known for their ice hockey teams. One of Russia’s most famous hockey players is Vladislav Tretiak, who led the Russian hockey team to four Olympic wins and became the first non-North American to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Today, many of the major league hockey players in Canada and the United States are originally from Russia.
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Although most people have modern bathrooms, the weekly steam bath is a regular custom in both the city and countryside. Afterwards they lash their bodies with birch twigs, and then plunge into a cold bath or roll in the snow.

Hiking, mountain climbing, backpacking and canoeing are popular among all age groups. Organized sports play an important part in the daily life of most Russian citizens. There are many physical training clubs, sports halls, swimming pools, and stadiums. Soccer, which the Russians call football, is the leading sport. Track and field, tennis, gymnastics, volleyball and basketball are also popular.

Chess is one of the most popular pastimes in Russia. Two recent world champions, Boris Spassky and Anatoly Karpov, are Russian. In the summer, open-air chess games in parks or on quiet street corners are a common sight. Another popular hobby is stamp collecting and there are thousands of stamp clubs.

Ethnic minorities in Russia have their own traditional forms of exercise. The Yakuts of central Siberia are skilled reindeer-sled racers and archery is popular among the Buryats of eastern Siberia. On the Amur River in Southeastern Russia, canoeing is a popular sport.