Outpouring of support for Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun in wake of photo scandal

1 Comment

A Lebanese minister’s desire to investigate a year-old risque photo shoot featuring the country’s lone female Olympic Alpine skier has generated global support for her ahead of her competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Over the last week, 22-year-old Jackie Chamoun, a two-time Olympian, has come under the scrutiny of Faisal Karameh, Lebanon’s Sports and Youth Minister, who ordered an investigation into topless photos disseminated in the country without her intent. Karameh declared that he wanted, “all measures taken to protect the reputation of Lebanon.”

Youssef Chamel Khalil, the administrator of Lebanon’s Olympic Alpine team, said Chamoun will face no repercussions for the photos and would be allowed to compete in Sochi.

RELATED: Minister calls for probe into Chamoun photos

“It’s OK,” he told AP. “In Lebanon, there is a little bit another way to think. Lebanon is a country of so many cultures.”

That statement has sparked outrage among free speech and women’s rights supporters across the world, as well as many who criticized the Lebanese government for having skewed priorities.

“Some women are beaten or killed, others are raped, and the media shifts their attention to a confident talented beautiful woman who represents her country at the Olympic games,” Cynthia-Maria Aramouni wrote on Facebook, referring to schoolteacher Manal al-Assi, who was allegedly beaten to death last week by her husband.

Aramouni helped launch a Facebook campaign called “I’m Not Naked,” in which Chamoun supporters posed semi-nude using the hashtag #StripForJackie. Tha same hashtag is being used similarly by protesters of Chamoun’s condemnation on Twitter.

Additionally, a handful of companies have taken to social media in support of Chamoun.

Almaza, the national beer of Lebanon, has begun an ad campaign featuring a beer bottle, with only a collar label, positioned in the snow next to a pair of skis, in support of Chamoun. Almaza posted a copy of the ad to its Twitter account:

Absolut has an ad in Lebanon featuring one of its vodka bottles without a label and the #StripForJackie hashtag:

#Absolut #Stripping4Jackie

Posted by BlogBaladi on Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here is a photo shared on Twitter of Chamoun checking the #StripForJackie hashtag from Sochi:

In 2013, Chamoun and her Vancouver Olympic teammate Chirine Njiem posed for an Austrian ski-tourism calendar featuring professional skiers and models posing topless at various ski resorts around the world.

The portraits of Chamoun and Njiem were taken in Faraya, Lebanon’s most popular ski resort located about an hour northwest of Beirut, and the slope where both women trained for the Olympics.

The photos, which were taken by Hubertus von Hohenlohe, the German-born Mexican prince who will compete at the Games for the sixth time next week, and used in the calendar depicted no explicit nudity.

RELATED: Chamoun makes it from Beirut to big time

In an interview with NBC Olympics in January, Chamoun spoke about the sensitivity the photos might have had if taken elsewhere in Lebanon, a traditionally conservative Middle Eastern country.

“If we were somewhere else in Lebanon, in a public place, maybe they would have shooted us,” Chamoun said. “But we were on the slope in Faraya and it is an open space. The people who go there are people from Beirut who are open-minded, more international in their thinking, so it wasn’t a problem.”

A behind-the-scenes video from that photo shoot that left little to the imagination was broadcast on Lebanese television and racier images screen-grabbed from that video have been publicly circulated.

Hohenlohe told NBC Olympics he had nothing to do with the video’s release, and was incredulous about the backlash Chamoun has received.

“I don’t believe it,” Hohenlohe wrote in an email. “It seems like we are in the ’50s or even the ’40s. I am proud of the pics and don’t think there is really anything bad.”

Chamoun does not blame Hohenlohe for the controversy. “He’s a really good friend. It’s not his fault,” she told AP.

The backlash from these photos prompted Chamoun to take to her Facebook page to apologize to anyone who might have been offended and to plead for people to stop sharing the pirated images.

“All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it,” she wrote. “It will really help me focusing on what is really important now: my trainings and race.”

Chamoun will compete in the women’s slalom on Feb. 21.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

Leave a comment

The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Olympic vault champion retires