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Sochi Olympics
Swiss-trained Olympic skier in nude video furore
Jackie Shamoun (right) in Sochi. Photo: Facebook

Swiss-trained Olympic skier in nude video furore

Published: 11 Feb 2014 22:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Feb 2014 22:14 GMT+01:00

Jackie Shamoun, the lone member of the Lebanese Olympic women’s alpine ski team, who studies and trains in Switzerland, has sparked a controversy after posing topless at a skiing resort in her home country.

A YouTube video circulating on the internet of Shamoun, wearing nothing but ski boots and a skimpy string bikini bottom, infuriated members of Lebanon’s government.

Fayçal Karamé, the country’s minister of youth and sport, called for the Lebanese Olympic committee to take measures “to protect the reputation of Lebanon”.

The Middle East nation is considered among the most liberal of those in the Arab world but much of its society remains attached to conservative social norms.

Chamoun, 22, posed in the snow at the Faraya-Mzaar ski resort in Lebanon along with Chirine Njelm another Lebanese skier for Hubertus von Hohenlohe, a Mexican former skier and descendant of German royalty who calls himself a prince.

According to information attached to the YouTube video, the photo shoot was for a calendar that annually features skiers and models posing topless at ski resorts around the world.

On her Facebook page, Shamoun acknowledged posing for photos for an “Austrian ski calendar” three years ago.

“The video and photos that you are now seeing are part of the making off, the preparation, it wasn’t supposed to go public,” she said in English.

“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,” Shamoun said.

“I fully understand if you want to criticize this.”

Her post attracted more than 7,600 Facebook “likes” as well as more than 2,300 comments, many of them supportive of Shamoun but some of them sharply critical.

The controversy has come at an awkward time for the athlete, who is studying sports and event management in Switzerland, where she also trains.

A photo on her Facebook page shows her leaving for Sochi from the Geneva airport.

The Beirut native was the focus of a recent profile by American TV network NBC for defying the odds to compete at the Olympics.

She took part at the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010, finishing 54th in the women’s slalom event. 

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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