Jackie Chamoun’s passion for skiing has taken her all the way from Lebanon’s mountains to the Olympic Games. LT asked her to share her passion for the sport and her home country
When and where did you first start skiing?
I started skiing when I was three years old with my dad in Mzaar Kfardebian. We used to go to the mountain every weekend and during the holidays with my family. At the age of four, I started skiing with Ski Passion, the ski school of Carlos Fenianos, my uncle. A few years later, my brother, my cousins and I started training with Faraya Mzaar club.
How did you become passionate about skiing?
My passion for skiing started when I was 12 years old. I always liked the sport, but my love for skiing grew when I was a teenager. I had goals such as winning as much as possible in order to be able to participate in international competitions. I succeeded in achieving my personal objective, which was to qualify and represent Lebanon at the most recognized and prestigious events: the World Ski Championships (2009 and 2013) and the Winter Olympic Games (2010 and 2014).
What is it about the sport that you love?
The feeling of freedom that it gives me, the fact that I am surrounded by nature, and a love of speed and adrenaline. It’s a passion that motivates me and drives me. I am competitive and I certainly like to win, but above all, I ski for the love of the sport and for all the positive vibes it gives me.
Which equipment do you recommend?
There are many good brands and equipment adapted to each level of skiing. I personally think that Sport Experts (sportsexpertsco.com, 93 33555) in Lebanon provides excellent equipment. Sport Experts supported me during the Olympic Games by providing me with great material: Salomon skis, Spyder racing suits, etc.
Do you like to ski in Lebanon? Where?
I certainly do. I feel at home when skiing at the Mzaar ski resort. That’s where it all started. I have great memories there with my family and friends and it always feels great to be back.
Where do you like to ski abroad?
Les Trois Vallées (Val Thorens, Courchevel, Meribel) in France. The ski area is very large, and the infrastructure and atmosphere are great.
Are you still representing Lebanon in international tournaments?
I stopped competing after the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014 as my professional life and work became my priority. I still ski a lot during the winter but I certainly miss competing.
WHERE TO SKI IN LEBANON
MZAAR SKI RESORT KFARDEBIAN
Known as Mzaar Ski Resort, Mzaar Kfardebian is 46km from Beirut, a drive of around one and a quarter hours. The resort has 42 slopes and 80km of ski tracks.
Kfardebian, Ouyoune Al Simane (09 341034)
At 38km from Beirut, approximately a 50 minute drive, Zaarour is the closest ski resort to the capital. Zaarour’s ski slopes are north-facing, offering an excellent quality of snow, with a panoramic view across the famous Valley of the Skulls and Mount Sannine. An elevator takes you from parking to slopes level. Many outdoor winter activities in addition to skiing are available.
Zaazour Club (zaarourclub.com, 04 310010)
CEDARS SKI RESORT
At 120km from Beirut, the Cedars is reached in about two hours from the capital. The resort is located on the highest range and offers the most scenic landscapes, making this a great option for nature lovers and an ideal getaway destination.