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06:13 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Russia

Putin Risks Bobsled Ride, Despite Warning

Russia
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He has dived to the bottom of Lake Baikal, flown a fighter jet and recently took up ice hockey.

He has dived to the bottom of Lake Baikal, flown a fighter jet and recently took up ice hockey.

On Thursday Vladimir Putin, 59, looked to beef up his action man image by riding on a sled.

The Russian prime minister was visiting a bobsled complex outside Moscow when he could not resist the urge to take a ride himself despite warnings from athletes who said he lacked “training,” a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

Sledder Alexei Shadeyev piloted the two-man sled which only reached the bottom of the run after a second attempt.

“It’s great, I recommend it to you,” Putin, who refused to wear a special bobsled suit, told journalists after the ride.

Putin, who served as a KGB agent in former East Germany in the 1980s, also refreshed his German skills by speaking to a Russian sled team Lichtensteinian coach, Wolfgang Schedler.

Putin remains Russia’s most popular politician and is widely tipped to win next month’s presidential election. However, analysts suggest rising discontent among Russia’s nascent middle class could see him forced into a potentially embarrassing runoff.