"Whether it's winter or summer... it doesn't matter, we go surfing,"
says Nikita Kononovich, a 29-year-old entrepreneur standing barefoot in
the snow on a beach on the Gulf of Finland outside the northwestern city
of Saint Petersburg.
He points out that "it's warm today" as thermometers show minus two degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit).
That's nothing for a surfer like Kononovich, who recently took his
board out on northwestern Lake Ladoga in temperatures of minus 10
The problem for surfers isn't paddling into the icy water without
freezing - but getting out of the water, says another surfer, Danila
Novozhilov, who has won a title at Saint Petersburg's surfing
"The worst moment is when you get out of the water and go to get
changed," he says, rubbing moisturiser into his face to protect his skin
from chapping before running down to join his fellow enthusiasts.
"Surfing in winter isn't particularly hard," he insists.
"You need to respect a few rules like watching how long you spend in the water to protect yourself from the cold."
Along the shore lined with pine trees, a handful of walkers in
head-to-toe weatherproof clothing stop to watch as the surfers head out
to the waves.
For one woman watching, 25-year-old Anna Nalyotova, such macho feats are inexplicable.
"I can't even imagine what could make me to go into the water at this moment," she says.