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January 31, 2011

Winter sports beat winter blues

In the Northern Hemisphere the short, dark days of January can put people in a funk. Unless they embrace the weather. Playing in the snow may be the best cure for the winter blues. Collected here are pictures from the last month showing everyone from Olympic and professional athletes performing at the highest levels of their sports to ordinary people enjoying an old-fashioned snowball fight in the street. Who needs spring? -- Lane Turner (39 photos total)

A man dives into the icy water in St. Petersburg, Russia, January 30, 2011. The temperature in St. Petersburg was around -3C (27 F). (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Thomas Lambert of Switzerland crashes as he competes in the aerials event at the World Cup freestyle ski competition at Mont Gabriel in Sainte-Adele, Quebec January 16, 2011. (REUTERS/Shaun Best) #

Matt Everidge, Camden Jarvis, and Christian Truxell, crash in the snow in Waynesboro, Va. January 27, 2011. (AP Photo/The News Leader/Mike Tripp) #

Matt Bornitz stands his Ski-Doo on end as he tops out in a vast, undulating field of powder near Togwotee Pass January 7, 2011 in Jackson, Wyo. Togwotee Pass, in the center of the Continental Divide Trail, is famous for its high-altitude powder and dramatic scenery. (AP Photo/Jackson Hole News & Guide/Price Chambers) #

Emily Sweeney of the US crashes in the ice channel during the luge World Cup race in Oberhof, Germany January 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer) #

Switzerland's Justin Murisier clears a gate during the first run of the slalom at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup January 16, 2011 in Wengen, Switzerland. (AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI) #

Rick Martel takes the lead over Matt Taylor and Fred Fecteau coming out of turn four during the Latchkey Cup ice racing auto race on Berry Pond January 29, 2011 in Moultonboro, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) #

Participants jump with their their sled to the finish line of the traditional horn sledge race in a valley near the Bavarian village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen January 6, 2011. (CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images) #

Josh Grimes, 17, sleds down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia January 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) #

A man snowboards past a pedestrian after a snowfall of over six-inches January 10, 2011 in downtown Asheville, N.C. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images) #

Crystal Lee chases a jackrabbit that got onto the course after she competed in the World Cup freestyle aerials skiing competition in Calgary January 29, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh) #

Members of a winter swimming club jump on an embankment to heat up before getting into the icy waters of the Yenisei River, with the air temperature at about -13 C (8.6 F), in the town of Divnogorsk, Russia January 28, 2011. (REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin) #

Samantha Schram (left) arms herself as she ducks an attack by her sister Sydnee Schram during a snowball fight on Beale St. in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal/Jim Weber) #

A competitor emerges from the freezing water during the 2011 Tough Guy Challenge January 30, 2011 in Perton, England. (Michael Regan/Getty Images) #

Yvonne Woods, 85, holds her towel after competing in the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships at the Tooting Bec Lido in London January 22, 2011. (REUTERS/Kieran Doherty) #

Norway's Tora Berger lies on the snow after arriving at the finish during the 12.5km mass start at the Biathlon World Cup in Anterselva, Italy January 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi) #

Britain's Amy Williams, an Olympic Gold medalist, starts her run during the skeleton at the Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup in Winterberg, Germany January 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) #

A swimmer takes to the frigid waters of Orankesee Lake during the 27th annual "Winter Swimming in Berlin" January 8, 2011 in Berlin. Members claim ice swimming is good for the body's blood circulation. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

Youths play ice hockey on the frozen Elbsee Lake near Aitrang, Germany as the sun sets January 5, 2011. (KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images) #

Colby West slides over the rainbow rail during practice for the skiing slopestyle event during Winter X Games 15 at Buttermilk Mountain January 28, 2011 in Aspen, Colo. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) #

Polo players challenge each other January 23, 2011 in Klosters, Switzerland. In temperatures plunging to -13 degrees, polo is played with a twist, with horsemen charging after the ball though snow rather than across a grassy pitch. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Hot air balloons take off during the 33nd International Hot Air Balloon week in the ski resort of Chateau d'Oex, in the Swiss Alps, January 23, 2011. Over 80 balloons from 15 countries are participating in the ballooning event in the Swiss mountain resort famous for ideal flight conditions due to an exceptional microclimate. (AP Photo/Keystone/Dominic Favre) #

Finland's Markus Malin competes in the snowboard halfpipe semifinal at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in La Molina, Spain January 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Susana Vera) #

Russia's Ivan Tcherezov leads the pack during the 10km sprint competition at the Biathlon World Cup in the German ski resort of Oberhof January 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Christian Charisius) #

A skier jumps before the Sapporo skyline during an official training session of the World Cup ski jumping competition at Okurayama Hill January 14, 2011. (KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Zoe Hart falls during the ice climbing competition during the 2011 Ouray Ice Festival January 8, 2011, in the Ouray, Colo., Ice Park. The daunting nature of the sport, pulling yourself up a slick, frozen surface that can break loose at any time, meant that until recently, the handful of waterfalls in the Pikes Peak region that could be climbed in winter mostly weren't. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette/Christian Murdock) #

Skaters compete during the 5000m event of the European Speed Skating Championships at the Collalbo ice rink in Collalbo, Italy January 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Max Rossi) #

Athletes take the start of the 33th 'Foulee Blanche' (White Stride) 42km cross country skiing race January 23, 2011 in Autrans, French Alps. (JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images) #

Thousands of anglers gather at Hole-in-the-Day Bay January 22, 2011 on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minn. for the 21st annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza. (AP Photo/Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey) #

People enjoy the frozen Lac de Joux lake at Le Pont in the Jura region in western Switzerland January 30, 2011. The lake, when completely frozen, is among the largest natural ice rinks of Europe and is a popular spot during the winter months for skating. (REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud) #

An unidentified coach sits at the Hundschopf jump over the high fog before the men's downhill Alpine skiing World Cup super combined race at the Lauberhorn in Wengen, Switzerland January 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer) #

Tourists ski through the Thueringer Wald in the eastern German ski resort of Oberhof January 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz) #

A worker uses a broom to clear a makeshift ice skating rink on the frozen Songhua River in the northern city of Harbin, China January 4, 2011. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

Winter swimmers paddle in a partially ice-covered swimming pool in Changzhi, China January 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

An unidentified skater from Norway trains at the European Speedskating Championships in Collalbo, Italy January 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) #

A skier is pulled by a horse during a traditional highlander's competition in Male Ciche, Poland January 30, 2011. (REUTERS/Marek Podmokly/Agencja Gazeta) #

Players from the White Park Hockey Club score against the Cheers Chiefs during their 50-and-over finals at the Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships January 30, 2011 in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) #

A participant dressed in a shark costume runs from the cold waters of English Bay while taking part in the 91st Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver January 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Andy Clark) #

Skaters enjoy the annual "Wiener Eistraum" ice rink built in front of the City Hall during its opening in Vienna January 20, 2011. The "Wiener Eistraum" (Vienna Ice Dream) ice rink and catering is open to the public until March 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner) #