Vanessa Mae Swaps Violin For Sochi Slalom
Classical violinist Vanessa Mae has made her Olympic debut in Sochi, finishing slowest of 74 skiers in her first attempt at the giant slalom.
Skiing almost upright much of the way down the rainy course, she crouched into the tuck position for the final gates before celebrating with ski poles raised above her head.
The star completed her first run in 1:44.86 seconds - 26.98 seconds behind the leader but with her pride and - crucially - ability to play the violin still intact.
Fifteen other skiers did not complete the course.
Competing under her father's surname as Vanessa Vanakorn, the multimillionaire is one of only two athletes representing Thailand in Sochi, having narrowly made the cut for the Olympics during the final weekend of qualification last month.
Her official Sochi profile lists her occupation simply as "musician" and says she "began skiing at the age of four, but her music career always took priority as she grew up".
It goes on to list her achievements as a child prodigy, entering the Guinness Book of Records aged 13 as the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos.
She has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, collaborating with pop stars like Janet Jackson and Prince.
The 35-year-old took a year off from her music career to prepare for the Olympic Games and has reportedly left her violin at home to concentrate on skiing.
She has kept a low profile around the Olympic park so far and is quoted as saying: "People are surprised when they see me skiing - a classical violinist, Oriental, who has lived in the city all her life.
"But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do."
Born in Singapore, but brought up in Britain, she lists her ambitions as: "To compete at the Olympic Winter Games."
She might not have been the fastest but she has, at least, achieved that.
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