KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Easing her way down the Olympic giant slalom course, pop violinist Vanessa-Mae completed Tuesday’s first run with the slowest time of the 74 skiers who finished.
Nearly upright for most of the rainy course before crouching into the tuck position for the final gates, the Thai racer finished in 1 minute, 44.86 seconds — 26.98 seconds behind leader Tina Maze of Slovenia.
She celebrated in the finish area, raising her arms and ski poles over her head.
After all, Vanessa-Mae did better than the 15 racers who did not finish their runs.
”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.”
Vanessa-Mae skied a bit more allegro in her second run, improving her time to 1 minute, 42.11 seconds for a total time of 3:26.97 and a last-place 67th place finish (of all those who finished). Tina Maze won the event with a total time of 2:36.87.