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Topless photos get Lebanese skier in trouble at home

Jackie Chamoun, 22, posed for a calendar a few years ago but the pictures surfaced on the Internet and some in the Middle East country are angry about it.

February 12, 2014|From staff reports
  • Jackie Chamoun of Lebanon reacts after completing her first run in the women's slalom at the world championships in Val d'Isere, France, in 2009.
Jackie Chamoun of Lebanon reacts after completing her first run in the women's… (Jacques Demarthon / AFP…)

A Lebanese alpine skier competing in Sochi is in hot water at home after topless photos of her taken during a photo shoot for an Austrian sports calendar surfaced on the Internet.

The calendar pictures, taken a few years ago, show Jackie Chamoun, now 22, standing in snow amid ski equipment.

But a leaked video of the photo shoot, filmed in a ski resort outside Beirut and aired this week on Lebanese TV along with stills, showed more revealing images of the Olympian.

Lebanon is often considered one of the most open and tolerant countries in the Middle East. But the images still ruffled some feathers there.

Faisal Karami, Lebanon's youth and sports minister, called Lebanon's Olympic Committee and asked for an investigation into the photos to ensure the protection of Lebanon's "reputation," the official national news agency reported.

Chamoun has responded to criticism in a message on her Facebook page.

"The video and photos that you are now seeing are part of the making off, the preparation, it wasn't supposed to go public," read the message. "Anyways, I want to apologize to all of you. I know that Lebanon is a conservative country and this is not the image that reflects our culture. I fully understand if you want to criticize this."

Her statement sparked an outpouring of support from Lebanese social media users, who denounced her critics and said she had nothing for which to apologize. By Wednesday, Chamoun's Facebook page had attracted about 50,000 likes and the site was flooded with thousands of comments in support of the skier, who is one of only two athletes representing Lebanon in Sochi.

—Alexandra Sandels

Troublesome rings

Organizers just can't seem to get those Olympic rings right.

After a mechanical error prevented one of the five rings from working properly during the opening ceremony last week, the rings at the Sochi airport also have been problematic.

The Olympic statue at the airport labeled each ring with a corresponding continent, such as black for Africa and yellow for Asia. That's incorrect.

Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, never assigned continents to the rings. He simply said they represent the participating areas of the planet, with the Americas combined, and a color that is in each flag of the world.

An International Olympic Committee spokesman said the belief that each ring represents a continent is one of the most perpetuated Olympic myths. Organizers of the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, made the same mistake.

"In popular discussion if you talk to anyone in the street they tend to think that is the case," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "Clearly it's not and I don't know quite how that happened, but I don't think it is a major, major issue."

—Stacy St. Clair

U.S. skier is overcome with emotion

American ski veteran Stacey J. Cook started to cry in the mixed zone after finishing 17th in the women's downhill at Rosa Khutor.

It mostly had to do with what she wrote after "ambition" in her official biography for the Sochi Games: "To win an Olympic medal."

Cook didn't win a medal and, at 29, probably has only one more Olympic chance — Saturday's super-giant slalom.

"The downhill is kind of the thing, though," she said.

Cook thought this could be her year after finishing fifth in two downhill races leading to Sochi. In 2012, she twice finished second in World Cup races in Lake Louise, Canada.

She finished 11th in the 2010 Olympic downhill in Vancouver, Canada, but never quite trusted the line she had mapped out in Russia.

"Not the run I wanted," Cook said. "Sometimes it's just not enough. You put so much energy into it. It's hard to swallow."

—Chris Dufresne

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