Thai Violinist Vanessa-Mae Qualifies for Alpine Skiing at Winter Olympics

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterJanuary 20, 2014

British violinist Vanessa Mae performs during her concert in Prague, Czech Republic, on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/CTK, Rene Volfik) ** SLOVAKIA OUT **
VOLFIK RENE/Associated Press

Vanessa-Mae, who is best known for having sold millions of records as a violinist around the world, has qualified to represent Thailand at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month.

The violinist, competing under the name Vanessa Vanakorn (her father's surname), has been a keen skier her whole life, but she set her mind to reaching the Games in 2010. According to her manager Giles Holland, speaking to the BBC, she has succeeded: 

"It would appear that she's done it," Holland told the BBC's Ollie Williams. "She's done it by a whisker, but she's done it."

Vanessa-Mae, now 35, was competing in Slovenia at the weekend to pick up the points she needed before next month's games.

The Guardian explain how she fulfilled the criteria to be picked:

Mae, who competes under the name Vanessa Vanakorn (her father's surname), raced four times in various giant slalom events in Krvavec in order to dip below the 140-point standard required. Countries with no skiers ranked in the world's top 500 may enter one man and one woman into the Games, in the slalom and giant slalom, as long as they can meet the points requirement.

Musa Sadulayev/Associated Press

It's quite a departure for the UK-born musician with family from Asia, who shot to fame as a child star. In 2006, her fortune was estimated at £32 million by the Sunday Times Rich List (via the BBC).

She won't be contending for medals in Russia, and she would have been unlikely to qualify to represent Great Britain under the rules, even though the nation is far from a Winter Olympic force. 

"People are surprised when they see me skiing - a classical violinist, Oriental, who has lived in the city all her life," Vanessa-Mae told Belinda Goldsmith of Reuters in January 2013.

"But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do."