Greetings from bitterly cold Moscow! – Ami Helge

Greetings from bitterly cold Moscow!  We are here covering the second leg of the very well named Iceball series here at Arena Paintball Moscow and Arena Paintball Palace Moscow.

We began our trip on Friday the 14th, but due to the cold in Sweden we decided to leave at 8 am to take the train to Copenhagen airport.  It was a good idea as the trains in Sweden were having a terrible time with the cold and tracks had been hindered by the snowy conditions.  So a 45 minute bus ride to the nearest train station, talk about upgrade, we were the only ones on the bus!

Because we left so early we had about a 10 hour wait in the airport until we could check in..had just missed the first check-in to drop off our bags and head through security. Security is always fun with a 120-300 lens in my bag as most often looks like some sort of mini missile to the security scanners.

At this point we had already been awake 14 hours!  Our flight was departing at 11:30 pm. We would arrive in Moscow at 2:30 am Swedish time, however there is a 3 hour time difference between Sweden and Moscow, meaning it was nearly 6am before we got our bags and was waiting for our taxi.

Our taxi was late due to the heavy Moscow traffic (nothing unusual to the residents of Moscow).  We arrived at Arena Paintball Moscow at 7:30am. First game was at 9am sharp.  Not much time for a nap as we still haven’t been to sleep since we left Sweden 21 hours ago.  This would be a LONG day for us.

The arena itself is equipted with heating so while outdoors it was a lovely -15 c indoors it was a toasty +15c!  Twenty four teams comprised the D2 bracket that would take several hours.  Again still wide awake and on the field.

The lighting is much better than what has been seen in such venues as World Cup Asia and an arena a bit closer home for us, Copenhagen Paintball Arena. Despite some lighting issues for our equiptment we continued throughout the day.  By hour 36 for us we decided that the lighting conditions had become too difficult for u sto continue as well as being and acting like zombies from lack of sleep.  We gave our appologies as we left for warm comfy beds at the home of our friends, Ekaterina and Stas.  The D2 tournament finshed at 1:30am, four hours after we had left!!  We barely made it through a wonderful Russian dinner without falling asleep in our plates!

After more than 9 hours of sleep we were refreshed and ready to get to work for the D1 bracket with games begining at 8am.  Sixteen teams would comprise this upper experienced division.  Familar faces such as Sergei and Mishka from Houston Heat/Art Chaos Moscow, Vasily Pantaleev and Pasha Lukashuk from Russian Legion were guest playing on several teams.  Todays play wouldnt take as long to complete.  Winners would be Polar Bears Moscow (comprised of several Russian Legion players).  The event this week would be in memory of the Arena owner’s son who passed away three years ago in a motorcycle accident.  We attended a short dinner where people spoke of stories of Denis and his love of paintball.  We were welcomed into the Arena’s owner’f family as if we were his own, saying we had the same love for the sport of paintball as his son.  We leared the history of the begining of the arena.  Denis fell in love with paintball like most, at first hit.  His father decided to build the arena to help grow the sport in Russia and help his son compete and learn from the best Russian paintball players.  When Denis passed away, Igor decided that his son would have wanted him to continue the love of paintball and he continued to maintain and grow paintball in Moscow.  This year he built the Paintball Palace to meet the needs of the growing paintball population in the region.  Players come near and far to particiipate in the winter series and summer series here at the two Arenas.

We were finished by 9pm and ready to head out once more to our host’s home.  We made a quick stop at a local grocery store to pick up a few things for another Russian meal, pelmani (a Russian dumpling usually filled with meat and served in broth).  We took a few minutes to look at photos but the hard days work took the best of us and we were off to bed.

Monday would be filled with a bit of shopping since our ”winter” jackets we had brought with us from Sweden would not be enough for the bitter Moscow winter that was upon us.  We were amazed by the very low prices on many of the jackets we saw.  After I chose a nice HEAVY warm jacket we were off to the arena to settle into our room that we would occupy until we left on December 27th.

Monday’s high temps would reach a lovely -14 with a low diping way into -20.  Tuesday and today would be the coldest days we have had since arriving as the high temp was -22 and who knows what the low temp was…I didnt want to even look.  It was cold enough that the heating system here at the arena had frozen up and we were kept warm by a small industrial heater that kept our room a nice toasty +18!

Tonight we are going to the ”new” arena, Arena Moscow Paintball Palace.  This arena was built this year and would cost in the 7 digit range.  Many teams will be practicing in two hour sessions today.  Teams such as Art Chaos, Headshot, Valkyries, Coyotes, Cupids Band, Vendetta and many others.

This coming weekend we will meet 36 D3 teams that will be competing in the new Arena Paintball Palace!  So all in all there would be 76 teams participating in the December leg of the Iceball series!  That is some pretty good numbers for an event in cold Moscow!