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Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Violinist Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (of Thailand?) Finishes Last in Ladies' Giant Slalom

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Feb 20, 2014 02:26 PM EST | Louise Burton ( l.burton@classicalite.com)

Violinist Vanessa-Mae Finishes Last in Giant Slalom, Ending Her Olympic Dreams on a Sour Note

Vanessa-Mae, competing for Thailand under her father's name Vanessa Vanakorn, reacts in the finish area after competing in the first run of the women's giant slalom event during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. (Photo : REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Crossover violinist Vanessa-Mae, who realized her dream earlier this week of skiing in the Sochi Olympics, finished in last place during the Ladies' Giant Slalom. But she was able to finish both her runs on a course where the conditions were less than ideal, something that 22 other competitors failed to do.

Vanessa-Mae's official time for both runs was 50 seconds slower than the winner, Tina Maze of Slovenia, and 12 seconds behind the skier in 66th place.

But Vanessa-Mae, 35, was not downhearted after finishing last. "The Olympics is like the greatest show on earth and to just share the same snow, to be able to slide down the same snow that the elite skiers carve down is just an honor and a privilege," she told the AP's Krasnaya Polyana.

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Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and Thai father. Her parents divorced several years later, and she went to live in Britain with her mother, who remarried. Vanessa-Mae chose to represent Thailand in the Sochi Olympics under the name of Vanessa Vanakorn, using her Thai father's surname. She was one of only two athletes representing Thailand at these winter games.

Vanessa-Mae currently enjoys an international career as a crossover violinist; her breakout album, The Violin Player (1995), has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. Less well-known to her legions of fans are her ambitions on the slopes. She began skiing at age four and has dreamed of competing in the Olympics since she was 14 years old.

Her appearance as an Olympic athlete was a surprise to many. She was invited to sit at Vladimir Putin's table during the International Olympic Committee's gala dinner before the games began.

She recounted her conversation with the Russian president to The Daily Mail's Malcolm Folley: "Putin said to me: 'When I heard about you wanting to compete in Sochi, I thought it was a joke,'" she said. 'But now, I see it was not a joke.'"

Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson only made the decision to shoot for these Olympics six months ago. She threw herself into training and skiied in two competitions in Slovenia over one weekend last month, earning her a world ranking of 2,253. It was just enough to enable her to qualify to represent Thailand in the Olympics, but some commentators have questioned her commitment to the sport.

None of this seemed to dampen Vanessa-Mae's spirits. "It's so cool," she told The Independent about her chance to compete. "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. I think it's great the Olympics is here, it gives you the chance to try something new later in life."

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