Violinist Vanessa-Mae makes her Olympic debut at Sochi in women’s giant slalom

She was only the third person to compete for Thailand in the history of the Games, finishing more than 50 seconds adrift of Slovenian winner Tina Maze

By Rob Maul

Violinist Vanessa-Mae makes her Olympic debut at Sochi in women’s giant slalom

Vanessa-Mae has added another string to her bow – skiing at the Winter Olympics .

The classical violinist, a British citizen, finished 67th in the women’s giant slalom – the last of the finishers to compete two runs down the rain-hit course.

Mae, 35, said: “With my limited experience at my age – I only started training six months ago – I’m just glad I made it down.

“The experience of being here is amazing.

“You’ve got the elite skiers of the world and then you’ve got some mad old woman like me trying to make it down.”

Finishing more than 50 seconds adrift of Slovenian winner Tina Maze, she almost crashed several times and got lost down the course.

Mae said: “It was rock and roll at times – I nearly crashed out three times – but I’m happy.

“I grew up in London so I’m afraid I brought the weather with me.

“It was cool. I was just happy I didn’t get lost, because this was my first two-gates and I thought I was going to go the wrong side.

“But I made it down.”

Asked about the possibility of injuring her arms, she replied: “You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs, but if you don’t take risks, what’s the point?

Vanessa Mae

“You have to enjoy life.”

Vanessa-Mae has sold more than 10m records worldwide and is worth about £30m.

The 35-year-old, who was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and Thai father, was brought up in England but now lives in the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt.

She competed for Thailand, only the third person to do so in the 90-year history of the Winter Games.

The world-famous musician has been skiing since she was four years old but was the lowest-ranked racer in the field – at 2,253rd – having just scraped through qualifying a month ago.

She has trained with the Russian team in Australia over the past year, flying to as many competitions as possible to secure the necessary qualifying points.

She said: “This is the Olympic spirit and to be just a small part of it for a few days is special.

“I am shy and I sort of shuffle around the canteen looking at all these amazing skiers and they are really friendly.

“They sidle up to you and say ‘hi’ and we talk about music and sport.

“There is no pressure, only really good spirit. If you do everything when you’re young you leave no fun until the end.”

Vanessa-Mae was taught to ski thanks to private lessons paid for by her mother Pamela but once she showed her talent in music, she was banned from hitting the slopes in case of injury.

She says that her estranged mum and former manager did not bother to contact her when she qualified for the Sochi Games.

On the eve of the Games, said: “There are moments, such as Olympic moments, when you bury your differences.

“But that hasn’t happened to us.”

Instead, she appeared on the official start sheets as Vanessa Vanakorn – competing under her father’s surname.

She said: “I have many, many different cultures in my life but one that I have never kind of celebrated before was my Thai side.

“Vanakorn is my name when skiing.

“It’s really fun because I celebrated the British side, I was born in Singapore but it’s the first time I get to enjoy the Thai side here.”

Vanessa Mae announces rare concert - May 12th

Winter Olympics 2014: violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for Thailand at the Sochi Games

Violinist Vanessa-Mae

British violinist Vanessa-Mae has fulfilled her long-term ambiltion to qualify for the Winter Olympics. She will be racing for Thailand, where her father was born

Winter Olympics 2014: violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for Thailand at the Sochi Games

By Sarah Knapton 7:00AM GMT 20 Jan 2014

Vanessa-Mae, the violinist, is to put her musical career on ice after being selected to ski for Thailand in the Winter Olympics.

Mae, who has skied since childhood, will be competing as Vanessa Vanakorn using her Thai father’s surname.

Her manager told the BBC that she made the team “by a whisker”.

She has been training since 2010, when she told The Telegraph: “I am taking a plunge. It has been my dream, and I am hoping people will accept I just want to give it my best.”

Under current Olympic qualification rules, countries with no skier ranked in the world’s top 500 may send one man and one woman to the Games, to compete in slalom and giant slalom.

Vanessa, had to compete in at least five internationally recognised events in order to qualify for several slalom races at the Games next month.

“People are surprised when they see me skiing,” she said.

“But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do. I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai.

“I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world,” she said.

She is only the second Thai to compete at a Winter Olympics.

Vanessa, whose full name is Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and a Thai father but was brought up in the UK when her mother remarried a Briton. She is a British citizen but she also has a Thai passport.

Vanessa started skiing aged four but her violin playing took precedence.

She sold 10 million albums and was nicknamed ‘Teeny Paganini’ when, at just eight, she became the youngest pupil at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At 13, she was the youngest soloist to record both Beethoven and Tchaikovsky concertos.

“I started skiing around the same time as I began playing the piano, at around four, before moving to the violin at five,” she said.

“And I’m lucky that having begun my musical career so young, it’s rather wonderful that I can now focus on my hobby. Not that I’m putting my day job on hold.

“Music will always be my greatest passion. There are still the concerts. To be honest, that became a treadmill. The endless touring, the promotions. By the time I got to 20, I was no longer enjoying it.”

Last year she announced she was taking a year off her music to qualify for the games. But she has previously said that she intends to return to music.

“Living my dream of being a ski bum is great but the best job in the world is being on stage, making music.”