Russian President Vladimir Putin polished his action-man credentials Friday by skiing in Sochi on the first day of a visit to the host city of the Winter Olympic Games opening in a month.
The leader -- who in the past has been photographed fishing and horse-riding bare-chested, piloting aircraft and a submarine, hang-gliding, playing ice hockey and practising judo -- donned a black ski-suit along with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev for a run close to a complex that will be used for downhill and biathlon competitions in the Olympics.
The Winter Olympic Games are to take place February 7-23.
Putin's visit, which a spokesman said would last several days, comes after suicide bombings December 29 and 30 in the southern city of Volgograd, 700 kilometres (400 miles) from Sochi, that counted as the deadliest attacks in Russia in three years.
"In the next days, the president will closely inspect the mountain and coastal sites and again verify the preparations made for the opening of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," the spokesman said.
Putin has staked his image and prestige on a successful and safe Olympics. Russia has poured more than $50 billion into the event and has imposed tight security in and around Sochi and in nearby cities.