Jackie Chamoun probably dreamed about being the subject of so many articles and headlines during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The only thing is, she likely envisioned the coverage being about her quest for a medal in the slalom and giant slalom Alpine skiing events.
However, a controversy has surrounded Chamoun recently after topless images emerged of Lebanon’s lone female skier at the Olympics.
Chamoun posed for a calendar that annually features skiers who are often scantily clad. American Julia Mancuso was on the cover of the 2012 edition, and the photos for the magazine are actually organized by Mexican Olympic skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe.
While the calendar was released some time ago, more risque images and video surfaced online in recent days that are allegedly from behind-the-scenes material of the photo shoot.
Alexander Marquardt of ABC News passed along statements from the Lebanon Olympic Committee that were obtained by Reuters:
The Lebanese Olympic Committee will not ask to exclude Chamoun from the Sochi Games in adherence to the Olympic rules, especially since the offense did not take place during the preparations (for the Games) nor during the Games.
While she will not be excluded, the Committee did say the images do “not reflect the real image of the Lebanese sports.”
For her part, Chamoun apologized on Facebook in a statement that was also passed along by Marquardt:
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.
All I can ask to each of you who saw this, is to stop spreading it. It will really help me focusing [sic] on what is really important now: my trainings and race.
It is interesting to note that she pleaded for people to stop spreading the controversy, because there has been an outpouring of support on social media for her right to free speech, much of which is accompanied by the hashtag #Stripforjackie.
Clearly, the buzz surrounding Chamoun could pose a serious distraction for many, but it will not impact her quest for a medal. Here are the schedules for the giant slalom and slalom events that she will be competing in:
Women’s Giant Slalom First Run
Date: Feb. 18
Time: 2 a.m. ET, 11 a.m. Sochi time and 7 a.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 7 a.m. GMT
Women’s Giant Slalom Second Run
Date: Feb. 18
Time: 5:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. Sochi time and 10:30 a.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 10:30 a.m. GMT
Women’s Slalom First Run
Date: Feb. 21
Time: 7:45 a.m. ET, 4:45 p.m. Sochi time and 12:45 p.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 12:45 p.m. GMT
Women’s Slalom Second Run
Date: Feb. 21
Time: 11:15 a.m. ET, 8:15 p.m. Sochi time and 4:15 p.m. GMT
TV Broadcast: NBC at 8 p.m. ET (rebroadcast) and BBC at 4:15 p.m. GMT
Part of what makes the Olympians in these Games Olympic athletes in the first place is the ability to block out distractions and hone in on the task at hand. Chamoun will be no exception to this reality.
She skied in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and placed 54th in the slalom. Chamoun placed 47th in the slalom at the 2009 World Championships as well.
She finished with the silver medal in the slalom and the bronze in the giant slalom at the 2013 Lebanese National Championships, the gold medal in slalom and silver medal in giant slalom at the 2009 Lebanese National Championships and the bronze medal in slalom at the 2008 Lebanese National Championships.
While Chamoun’s resume may not match the legendary ones of skiers Mancuso or Lindsey Vonn, it is still impressive. She will prove her worth as a skier during the competitions in Sochi despite the newfound fame surrounding her.
If Chamoun doesn’t medal it won’t be because of any so-called distractions. It will be because the world-class athletes she is competing against just happened to be better during that given competition.
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