Try(cough)ski: Vanessa Mae in the Olympics

February 18, 2014 at 08:05 PM · Greetings,

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/feb/18/vanessa-mae-67th-winter-olympics-giant-slalom

Hasn`t cracked the high positions yet?

Cheers,

buri

Replies (22)

February 19, 2014 at 02:38 PM · This is a live link to the article.

You know, that looks like one driven lady--finishing last in the Olympics is still ahead of what most can do, Thai surname or not. Success in two such different fields? I'm impressed.

And I liked this: "Before the Games, Mae had spoken about how her passion for skiing caused a rift with her mother, who was the driving force behind her violin career and was terrified of anything that could threaten her daughter's ability to play. Mae was determined that despite the potential for injuries, her desire to ski was more important. 'You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs, but if you don't take risks, what's the point? You have to enjoy life,' she said."

True. This is not a dress rehearsal, after all.

February 19, 2014 at 04:15 PM · I think she's tried her hand at film acting as well - at least, I remember seeing on TV the beginning of a film starring her.

February 20, 2014 at 03:53 AM · Can't wait to check out these links. I second Marjory's "one driven lady" comment. I heard the news this am (or yesterday?) on my wake-up classical music radio alarm/station and thought I was dreaming - this Olympic talk and Vanessa Mae reference.

I'm tickled, really. What a great variety of skills. And there's got to be a great joke or pun about it all hiding out there somewhere...

February 20, 2014 at 03:59 AM · Okay, just read... This was interesting; apparently she's only been training for 6 months, and finished 74 of 74.

"Mae, who grew up in Singapore and London, is one half of a two-person Thai team at Sochi, and only the third person to represent the country at a Winter Olympics. She got into the event by the skin of her teeth after competing in a number of qualifying events over the past months."

But I really do love this comment of hers here:

"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," she said. "I think it's great the Olympics is here, it gives you the chance to try something new later in life. If you do everything when you're young, you leave no fun until the end. I was lucky that the Olympics, you know, allow exotic nations, for people like me who have day jobs."

Well, hey. I'll end the day saying that's pretty cool, what she did. And, hey. It put a violinist on the global news circuit. Our little instrument should take all the press it can get.

I guess the same can be said for Thailand and its skiers. : /

February 22, 2014 at 12:45 AM · A not-so-great pun to start off with: I don't know what strings she uses, but a couple of days ago she was certainly displaying guts (She didn't finish in the Dominant position).

February 22, 2014 at 02:41 AM · proving you should never play when you are piste.

February 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Frankly, I was appalled. She did this purely for selfish, vain reasons, not for the Olympic spirit. She denigrates the Olympics by this.

February 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Greetings,

I don`t take it that seriously but I can`t quite se the basis for this assumption. In what sense is her motivation different from other Olympic athletes? Did she work hard to get a place? Did her being included actually exclude someone more deserving?

I also wonder about the definition and existence of something called `the Olympic Spirit?` Not an expert but it does seem to involve all sorts of things, of which the less than salubrious include sleazy involvement of politics, turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, drug enhancement, materialistic sponsorship, alarmingly nationalistic jingoism and so on.

As someone pointed out above, being 67th in the world is some feat in any field.

Cheers,

Buri

February 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Buri, you got in before me, leaving me nothing to do but to paste from Wikipedia on the subject:

'General concept[edit]

More generally, the term "Olympic spirit" is an oft-referred-to but perhaps vaguely defined concept associated with the Olympic Games. Some media equate it with Pierre de Coubertin's statement that "The important thing is not to win, but to take part", and view athletes who try their best but finish last as epitomising the "Olympic spirit". Thus the Agence France-Presse wrote ...'

Vanessa-Mae has her serious faults, but as far as I can see, lacking the Olympic Spirit is not one of them.

February 22, 2014 at 02:59 PM · >She denigrates the Olympics by this.

I disagree. No one who finishes last and is cheerful about it, saying "I'm glad I trained so hard for this and actually did it, despite my obvious limitations" is denigrating the Olympic spirit. That is the spirit. And how often do you get to hear Thailand mentioned in the winter Olympics? Bet they're all smiling about that.

I'm not saying this whole setup was ideal and honorable and such, but I'm still more charmed than appalled by it. (Okay, still a tiny bit appalled.) And I'll always applaud a gracious loser.

And thank you for the puns, you other gents. Let the word games begin.

February 22, 2014 at 11:21 PM · Greeating ,

reasonable article from then guadian.....

Burp

Laugh at her if you will, but I have never liked Vanessa-Mae more. Sure, she's a bazillionaire violinist who didn't need any more publicity, but if she wanted a second career she could have spent the past six months sculpting a new violin out of used £20 notes and pretending she was a conceptual artist. Instead, she decided to spend them training to ski the giant slalom before competing for Thailand in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

She wasn't taking up a place that could have gone to a more qualified contender: Thailand boasts one more Olympic-standard skier than my flat, and he's competing in the men's events. And Mae had a gratifying sense of self-awareness about her chances. Interviewed by the BBC, she said: "It's so cool. 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." She may have come last in 74th place, 27 seconds behind the winner, but she was less than eight seconds behind the second-slowest competitor. In other words, the gap between Mae and the less good elite skiers of the world is far smaller than the gap between them and the very best. And this is her second job.

In taking on an impossible challenge, what has Mae lost? A bit of dignity, perhaps? When a 35-year-old, celebrated for her beauty, describes herself as a "mad old woman", it's probably fair to suggest she isn't too worried about her dignity. And the Winter Olympics is exactly the place to remind everyone that sometimes it really is the taking part that counts. Mae is continuing the noble tradition of Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards and the Jamaican bobsleigh team who inspired the film Cool Runnings (or even the Caribbean country's entry in the discipline this year). You might not have a hope in hell of winning, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't even try.

And of all the sports she could have had a go at, giant slalom is hardly an easy option. She could have tried curling, where the only real risk is that you might trip on your brush and fall over, blinded by the trousers of the Norwegian men's team. She could have tried the luge, in which the main requirement is the ability to lie down really well. But no, she went for the sport where you stand a more than decent chance of falling down a mountain face-first and breaking something important, like a usually violin-playing arm.

But competing for gold is only part of what the Olympics is supposed to be about. Behind all of the sponsorship and politics and money is something else: the ambition to be better than you are at something, even if that something is throwing yourself down a mountain on a pair of sticks. Mae can only have been successful in such a cut-throat world as classical music by being deeply competitive. And yet she was able to put aside that competitive nature to have a punt on something difficult, knowing that she would be watched and judged by the global media. She must have realised that if she so much as slid into a gate, the footage of her gaffe would have been all over the world in record-breaking time. And yet she took the risk.

Of course there will be those who think that allowing hopeless contenders into a prestigious sporting event makes a mockery of the whole thing. But the Olympics was once about amateur sportsmen and women taking part for the glory of the attempt. And perhaps in another Olympics or two, there will be a few more Thai athletes competing, inspired by their countrywoman's effort.

Although the winners have our respect for their commitment and endurance over years or decades of competing, I shall nonetheless remember Mae's heartening words: "I nearly crashed three times, but I made it down and that was the main thing. Just the experience of being here is amazing."

February 23, 2014 at 12:24 AM · Has anybody been to a world cup or olympic ski course? As an antipodean, unaccustomed as I was to tall snowy slopes - when I visited the world cup course in Austria I could barely stand upright. Looking down from the starters box is seriously terrifying, the friggin thing drops away at practically 90 degrees it seems. I admire the pluck of a mature woman determined to do this - she has had to find a pathway against seriously determined and competitive youngsters whose whole life and career is focussed on the sport, retaining her dignity along the way.

February 23, 2014 at 12:38 AM · Greetings,

'even if that something is throwing yourself down a mountain on a pair of sticks'

this quote from the article seems a reasonable metaphor for performing the Beethoven concerto.

the sticks are of course, those used by by the timpanist in the first bar(s)

cheers,

Buri

February 23, 2014 at 01:47 AM ·

Holy Air on G Slalom Beethoven!!!

Vanessa going for the Gold

February 24, 2014 at 01:48 PM · For puns, I'm afraid the 18 February 2014 Grauniad (might as well use an approved spelling) appears to have come in first,

"Violin virtuoso Vanessa-Mae's Winter Olympic debut was more lento than presto on Tuesday, her rhythm more rallentando than accelerando as she completed the first leg of the Alpine skiing giant slalom", and we seem to be emulating our more distinguished violinist friend. Just hope the word "leg" doesn't have to get used in any other sense (though that would be better than "arm").

February 24, 2014 at 11:26 PM · Set of variations composed and recorded by Vanessa-Mae on the theme tune from 'Chariots of Fire' coming up! (Well, you lot know what to post here on her behalf)

February 25, 2014 at 12:30 AM · I'm thinking something a little more 'Rockyesque' like er...

'Contact lens of the Tiger.'

Cheers,

Burp

February 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Ah, a rock factor rather than a yuck factor! How about an esoteric compromise: A Set of Double Variations, perhaps?

July 13, 2014 at 03:24 PM · http://www.theviolinchannel.com/vanessa-mae-sochi-olympics-officials-suspended-falsifying-times/

July 14, 2014 at 01:05 AM · That's totally a surprising and shocking find. ;)

July 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM · She was the last of those who completed, but weren't there some competitors, who did not even complete? Doesn't this demonstrate that even if she had not qualified legitimately to be there, her participation was justified by the outcome?

I hope she's been playing Chain II and Partita (by LUTOSLAW-SKI - The Poles -ski, the Russians only watch on -sky).

February 25, 2016 at 04:16 PM · Vanessa Mae has won a defamation lawsuit against the FIS. Full report here:

http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20162/17389/

Justice has prevailed.

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