Female Russian Olympians Pose in Risque Photos to Promote Sochi Games

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 01:  Ice hockey goalkeeper Anna Prugova of Russia gives an interview during practice prior to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Shayba Arena on February 1, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Preparation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi took an unusual turn ahead of the opening ceremony on Feb. 7, as a string of risque photos featuring Russia's female athletes arrived online.

The images have been deployed as a means of promotion, something Will Stewart of the Daily Mail calls a "charm offensive."

Stewart's report also translates the message from the original website, which states, "Russian sportswomen are the best campaigners for our team in Sochi."

SAPPORO, JAPAN - JANUARY 12:  Irina Avvakumova of Russia competes in the normal hill individual 1st round during the FIS Women's Ski Jumping World Cup Sapporo at Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Sapporo, Japan.  (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Organisers have revealed the photos in an attempt to battle against the stereotype that "women in sport are just a heap of muscles and masculine shapes."

Ski-jumper Irina Avvakumova, ice hockey goalkeeper Anna Prugova and curler Ekaterina Galkina are amongst those posing alongside sporting equipment.

This is not the first time female stars have been used to promote a sporting event in a similar manner. As reported by Massimo Marioni of the Metro, the German under-20 squad took part in a Playboy photoshoot ahead of the 2011 World Cup finals.

RIGA, LATVIA - MARCH 21:  Ekaterina Galkina of Russia gives team mates instructions after she throws a stone in the match between Russia and USA on Day 6 of the Titlis Glacier Mountain World Women's Curling Championship at the Volvo Sports Centre on March
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Men and women from Oxford's rowing team stripped off for charity in September, as reported by Ruth Styles of the Daily Mail. The University of Warwick's squad did the same, per The Telegraph.

Russia's racy compilation is causing quite a stir ahead of the Games. Australia's The Daily Telegraph called the promotion a "soft porn shoot," while suggesting the nation is "courting controversy" with the release of such material.

Rachael Oakes-Ash of Daily Life called the photos "demeaning," while Louisa Peacock of The Telegraph sought reaction from Russians living in Britain.

Sergei Grits/Associated Press

England-based Yulia Ivanova told Peacock the shoot "is not seen as prostitution or degradation – it is seen as strength and confidence" in Russia.

Action at the Sochi Winter Olympics officially begins on Feb. 8, running through to Feb. 23. Ollie Williams of BBC Sport reports 98 gold medals are up for grabs across 15 disciplines, with over 2,900 athletes from 85 countries heading into the spotlight.