KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Like other Olympians, pop violinist Vanessa-Mae got to live her dream ... but a lot slower than everyone else.
Short on both style and speed, she finished a distant last of 67 racers who completed the giant slalom. Her time of 3 minutes, 26.97 seconds over two runs was 50.1 seconds slower than the new Olympic champion, Tina Maze of Slovenia.
But she was just thrilled to have taken part. "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," Vanessa-Mae said. "So, you know, when I get to even train with some of them for like two runs, sometimes I'm already a little bit like, 'Ooh, that's so cool!'"
While the elite skiers raced aggressively, thwacking the gates and leaning into the hill, Vanessa-Mae skied upright for most of the rainy course before crouching into the tuck position for the final gates.
She celebrated in the finish area, raising her arms and ski poles over her head after her first run. After her second run, she refreshed her lipstick and put on a wristwatch from one of her sponsors to present herself before the world's media.
"It was really cool," she said. "I expected to be last but you know at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity." Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore and raised in Britain, but is at the Olympics as one of two athletes on Thailand's team. She's competing as Vanessa Vanakorn, using the surname of her Thai father.
"I said to myself, 'If I qualify I'm going to set a goal for myself,'" she said. "I made (a) pledge that I'm going to make a big donation to charity, because I support animal charities. So my main purpose for being here was to really have a good time, to improve my skiing in a very short amount of time and to help some animals out there."