“Russia's female athletes are the best PR for our Olympic team in Sochi,” the headline proudly proclaims on a Russian website. Below that is a photo spread showing female sports icons posing in scanty lingerie, looking more like mail-order brides than world-class champions.

The website, AdMe.ru, bills itself as “a site for creativity, featuring advertisements, design, photography and art.”

It's not exactly clear which category the almost nude Olympians fall into.

Welcome to feminism, Russia style. The photo spread is designed to “counteract the stereotype that girls in sports are just a mountain of muscle and masculine body types,” according to the article.

Well, they certainly do that.

Here's Anna Prugova in her more traditional attire.

Russian goalie Anna Prugova lets one by against USA in February 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Harry How/Getty Images)

But the goalie looks anything but tough in flimsy black lingerie, her helmet discreetly held in her lap in place of a fig leaf.

Freestyle skierMaria Komissarovalooks a little scary in her S&M garters, with an over-the-shoulder growl that is a bit more Wild Kingdom than Wide World of Sports.


Alexandra Saitova, a curling champion, is ready for the cabaret, with a microphone positioned just short of nasty, whileYelena Nikitinamakes it look as if stilettos are totally de rigueur for skeleton.

Russia is by no means alone in exploiting its female athletes for a bit of a thrill.

One need only think of Sports Illustrated's yearly Swimsuit Edition, which often featuresbodacious champions in provocative costumes.

Or just take Olympic Champion Lindsey Vonn, who parted from beau Tiger Woods just long enough for a steamy photo shoot for The Red Bulletin that will hit the newsstands later this month.

One website has published a “definitive” list of “the 50 hottest female athletes of the 2014 winter Olympics” — prominently featuring the Russians, of course.

Most of the women from other countries are disappointingly modest, however — with a few notable exceptions. Austria's Ina Meschik seems to be making love to her snowboard, and Switzerland's Carmen Schaefer rises naked from a lake, leaving us to wonder where her curling gear is.

But for the most part, the 50 steamiest sportsbabes are strictly PG.

What has attracted attention with the Russian athletes is not so much the scantiness of the attire as the blatant sexuality of the poses.

The ESPN The Magazine Body Issue bares a lot more flesh, after all, when it photographs beautiful bodies — male and female — totally unencumbered by clothing. The photos are stunning, as are the athletes, but there is about as much prurience in them as in Michelangelo's David.

It was not so very long ago that a prim Russian matron told TV personality Phil Donahue, “There's no sex in the Soviet Union.”

Those days are long gone, of course, and Leninist puritanism seems to have gone out the window along with the red stars on the Kremlin towers.

The Russians, of course, need all the positive PR they can get, to distract attention from the logistical nightmare that has engulfed the games. Journalists from all over the world have kept their audiences entertained with tales of hotel rooms without doors, toilets that do not flush, and tap water a very suspicious shade of yellow.

The Russian sports chicks may just do the trick. If their sports prowess equals their sex appeal, they should be bringing home the gold.