For Vanessa-Mae, It’s All Downhill From Here

Vanessa-Mae on the Swiss slopes in April last year (AP Images)

Remember Vanessa-Mae? Oh you do! The British/Thai violinist that appeared on the Janet Jackson album “The Velvet Rope” and then toured around the world fusing classical chops with techno and generally attempting a form of musical fusion that was guaranteed to get up the noses of purists from here to way over there. No, not there, further…

Well it seems that being a child prodigy and achieving worldwide success in your field can leave a person wondering what else there is in life, and so Vanessa has decided to put the bow down, at the age of 34, and concentrate on her new love, skiing.

And she is now so committed to developing her slalom skills, she’s attempting to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next year, representing Thailand. In order to do so, she has to compete in five or more Federation Internationale de Ski competitions.

She told Reuters: “People are surprised when they see me skiing, but it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do.”

And the fact that she would only be the second Thai contestant in the whole Winter Olympics – after cross-country skiier Prawat Nagvajara appeared in both the 2002 Salt Lake City games and in Turin, four years later – is just an extra spur.

“I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai.”

Although Vanessa-Mae’s mum is Chinese and her dad is Thai, she grew up in England, after her mother remarried, and now lives in Switzerland, which does at least give her an advantage when it comes to training. She’s one of five athletes that are registered to compete for Thailand, but needs to get her competition experience in order to qualify for the Olympics.

“When it comes to music I am a perfectionist,” she explains, “but when it is skiing, I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world.

“Of course there is a risk that I could break something but life is short and you have to go for it.”

And there’s always that fiddle to fall back on.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
View all posts by Fraser McAlpine.