Vladimir Putin managed well enough in an exhibition hockey game in Moscow in which he netted eight goals against team filled with former NHL players.
It was the postgame victory lap that was the tricky part.
The Russian president took part in an annual “Legends” game in the Russia capital that included a number of Russian former pros like Slava Fetisov and Pavel Bure. As the New York Post reported, Putin was the star of the game with eight goals scored. (It’s not clear how hard the other team was trying to stop the iron-fisted president from finding the back of the net, though one clip from SkyNews, below, seems to indicate a lack of resistance to one of Putin’s goals.)
There were a number of other high-profile and Kremlin-connected players, including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (who had three goals) as well as billionaires Gennady Timchenko and Vladimir Potanin.
After the exhibition game ended, Putin and the rest of the players returned to the ice to take a victory lap and wave to the cheering crowd. As he approached center ice, Putin started to skate directly toward a rubber mat that had been placed onto the ice for a postgame ceremony, and despite some desperate warnings from his fellow players, Putin didn’t see it in time. The Russian president skated directly into the mat, sending him falling face-first onto the mat and ice.
Putin made a quick recovery and hopped back up to his feet to continue waving, but wasn’t able to avoid the embarrassment of the internet. The clip of Putin’s fall went viral, with many mocking the on-ice blunder from a world leader who is very careful about maintaining his appearance as a tough man.
The clip seemed especially popular with critics of Donald Trump, who have often taken aim at his seemingly too-close relationship with the Russian president. Trump has met in secret with Putin on several occasions and taken great efforts to hide what was discussed, reportedly going so far as to destroy notes and refusing to brief his own cabinet members on what was discussed. Trump has also sided with Putin when the Russian president denied that his country interfered in the 2016 presidential election, despite a consensus from American intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere at Putin’s direction.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shared another phone call this past week, one in which Trump reportedly reversed his stance on the civil unrest in Venezuela to move away from America’s stance and toward Putin’s.