Mexican prince and topless skier cause Games stir
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — After five Olympics, Mexican skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe knows several of his colleagues very well on the pistes — but also off them, as his sensual photo calendars show.
Great skiers like Julia Mancuso of the United States and Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria, along with the now retired Marc Girardelli of Luxemburg and Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein, have all posed for the albums of this photographer, singer, businessman and prince of German origin.
However, none of those productions have ever caused as much of a stir as the one he did in 2012 starring Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun.
A video of that shoot that was leaked earlier this week showed the 22-year-old skier posing on the snow and Von Hohenlohe doing his work with his camera on hand. In some passages, Chamoun can even be seen topless, although the Mexican denied that those portions had featured in his photo shoot.
"The photos are very normal," an annoyed Von Hohenlohe told dpa. "It seems like people have nothing to talk about."
At age 55, he is the oldest competitor in Sochi 2014.
"The girl is cool, beautiful, but the video is ridiculous. There is nothing pornographic about it," Von Hohenlohe complained.
Daring or not, the video has caused huge problems for Chamoun, who hails from a high-class Lebanese family that plays a big role in her country's politics. She apologized in the face of criticism back home in Lebanon.
"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," she wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page.
That was not enough, however, to prevent Lebanese Sports Minister Faisal Karami from demanding an investigation of the incident from the country's Olympic committee.
"Someone is jealous of Lebanon's Chamoun because she made it to the Winter Olympic Games and they want to discredit her," Von Hohenlohe said of a sportswoman he calls his friend.
Chamoun was very upset about these developments and opted not to answer the many calls she got from international media.
She may at least have found some consolation in the support she got from many people back home.
In an initiative on social networks with the slogan "I Am Not Naked — I Strip for Jackie," hundreds of Lebanese people posted photos of themselves half-naked to show their support for Chamoun.
Mohammed Abdouni, one of the sponsors of the Facebook campaign, described as a "scandal" the fact that pictures of the skier have received more attention than the country's political situation and than violence against women within its borders.
The controversy relegated the mariachi outfit that Von Hohenlohe plans to wear when he competes in the slalom, which also caused a stir on social networks. And it made the usually cheerful Mexican more serious.
"He is disconcerted," said Carlos Pruneda, the head of the Mexican mission at the Sochi Games.
There is no question of stopping publication of his attractive photo albums, however.
"No way, I'm a professional," Von Hohenlohe said.