The spirit of Russian hockey wins the 2016 World Press Photo contest. A collection of photos by Sputnik news photographer Vladimir Pesnya captures the essence of the sport in the village of Vetluga, approximately 400 miles from Moscow.
As reported in Russia Beyond the Headlines, the photos cover games between the Vetluga amateur junior hockey club and teams from the nearby villages of Sharanga and Tonshaevo. Pesnya’s photos give viewers a full hockey experience by depicting village hockey in Russia, from both the coaches and players perspective.
Officially, there is no connection to Minnesota; however, the photos remind us of the love of hockey that both Minnesotans and Russians share. Without captions, the outdoor rinks could easily be confused for photos of a town in northern Minnesota rather than a village in central Russia. Furthermore, as a hockey parent, the photos remind me of the purity and simplicity of the sport; a simplicity that is sometimes lost in the midst of association fees, development camps, and increasing commercialization.
Hockey fan or not, I encourage you to take a break and check out the award winning photos here.