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.”

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