Updated: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 16:46 | By Agence France-Presse

Last-place, last-minute Mae happy with slow giant slalom

Violin virtuoso Vanessa Mae, Thailand's first ever female skier at the Olympics, came last in a rainy giant slalom on Tuesday but was still bubbling with joy after finishing the slushy course.


Last-place, last-minute Mae happy with slow giant slalom

Violin virtuoso Vanessa Mae, Thailand's first ever female skier at the Olympics, gets ready to start the Women's Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom Run 1 at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014 - by Dimitar Dilkoff

The Singapore-born British former child prodigy came through the finish line in 74th place, a massive 26.98sec behind leader Tina Maze of Slovenia. 

Hesitantly out of the starting gate, she clocked 1min 44.86sec down the course, 7.83sec behind her closest rival Xia Lina of China. 

But at least, she finished -- unlike 15 others who failed to make it down.

And coming long after top medal contenders who fought for every hundredth of a second, the 35-year-old Mae -- racing under the name Vanessa Vanakorn -- was happy with her result. 

"I expected to be last but at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity," she said, still wearing a bright green and pink mouthguard. 

"I think I'm going to make a second run so it was really cool."

"I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing. Just the experience of being here is amazing. I was worried I was going to get lost (on the course), but I just about managed it."

"I'm a last-minute kind of girl, I mean training for the Olympics with six months to go was a last-minute thing."

"My main purpose of being here was to really have a good time, to improve my skiing in a very short amount of time," she said. 

Although a British citizen, strict British Olympic Association rules on team selection for alpine skiing saw Mae take Thai citizenship in her bid to make the Olympics.

The violinist -- who has described music as her "lifelong passion" but skiing as her "lifelong hobby" -- eventually qualified after getting the required number of points in four races in Slovenia. 

On Tuesday, donning an orange helmet and largely dark blue catsuit, Mae negotiated the course with a conservative style, clearly lacking the cutting edge of Maze and other leaders in the discipline.

Still she dismissed talk of a possible injury that could hurt her other career. 

"You have to take risks in life at the end of the day. You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs but you won't enjoy life."

Mae, whose full name is Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson, made her name as a child classical violinist before becoming renowned for what she has described as her "techno-acoustic fusion".

While not well known in Thailand, she became a household name in Britain, with worldwide record sales in excess of 10 million.

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