Vanessa-Mae aims for Sochi 2014
Violinist Vanessa-Mae has confirmed that she is in training to compete for Thailand in ski events at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
- Published: 22/01/2013 at 10:44 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Vanessa-Mae performs a wai for the camera during a visit to Thailand in 2005. (Photo by Chanat Katanya)
The 34-year-old violinist, known for mixing classical music with pop, has a long-stated desire to represent Thailand at the Games.
A British citizen, Vanessa-Mae is half Thai. Her father, Vorapong Vanakorn, is Thai, her mother, Pamela Tan-Nicholson, is Chinese, and now a British citizen through re-marriage.
Vanessa-Mae, whose full name is Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson, is a keen downhill skier. In 1999, she applied to become a Thai citizen with a view to representing the kingdom in skiing.
"People are surprised when they see me skiing – a classical violinist, Oriental, who has lived in the city all her life," Vanessa-Mae told Reuters.
"But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do."
Vanessa-Mae wanted to represent Thailand in ski events at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but her dream of becoming a professional international skier did not materialise. Thai authorities at that time requested that she give up her British passport in exchange for a Thai passport.
The Foreign Ministry relented and gave her a special passport in 2002, granted to those with special talents. The Olympic Committee of Thailand confirmed in 2010 that it had agreed to Vanessa-Mae’s request to represent Thailand at Sochi.
"I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai," said Vanessa-Mae.
"My father, like most Thais, has never skied but he's really excited about me doing this, as is the Thai Olympic Committee."
Vanessa-Mae has been training in Zermatt, Switzerland, for the past three years in the hope of making it to the Games in Sochi, a city on Russia’s Black Sea coast near the border with Georgia, in February 2014.
The International Ski Federation said that Vanessa-Mae needed a minimum of five starts in Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) competitions and certain points to qualify for the Olympics.
"She has a full year to quality and there are many events, so there are plenty of options still," FIS spokeswoman Riikka Rakic told Reuters.
Vanessa-Mae has taken a year's sabbatical from music to concentrate on skiing.
"When it comes to music I am a perfectionist but when it is skiing, I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world," she said.
"Of course there is a risk that I could break something, but life is short and you have to go for it. Just to qualify for the Olympics in my hobby would be a dream come true for me."
The violinist intends to return to music after the Olympics.
"It's time for a new album but doing this will give me a new perspective,” she said.
“Living my dream of being a ski bum is great but the best job in the world is being on stage, making music."
Vanessa-Mae would be only the second Thai to compete at the Winter Olympics, if she qualifies.
Academic Prawat Nagvajara represented the kingdom in cross-country skiing at Salt Lake City 2002 and the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.