Violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski at Sochi for Thailand
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Violin star Vanessa-Mae will put on her slalom skis next month to become only the third person to represent tropical Thailand at the Winter Olympics.
A British citizen, the 35-year-old Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson qualifies to compete for Thailand at the Sochi Games in Russia through her natural father. She was brought up in England when her mother remarried a Briton.
"National Olympic Committee of Thailand has already made a decision to send Kanet Sucharitakul as the male athlete and Vanessa-Mae as the female athlete," Varin Tansuphasiri, deputy secretary-general of Olympic Committee of Thailand, told Reuters.
"(We are) currently coordinating with the International Ski (Federation) to announce the name of the contestants on their official website."
The first Thai to compete in any Winter Olympics was academic Prawat Nagvajara, a cross-country skier at Salt Lake City in 2002 and Turin in 2006.
Vanessa-Mae made her mark on the world stage when she broke from tradition and became known for her sexy, glamorous violin style and for mixing classical music with pop.
Her first techno pop-style album, "The Violin Player," was released in 1995 and reached No. 11 in the UK albums chart, selling over 10 million albums.
She qualified after competing four giant slalom races last weekend in Slovenia.
Countries which do have a skier ranked among the world's top 500 can send one male and one female skier to the Winter Olympics if they meet a high enough standard.
She told Reuters last year that she started skiing when she was 4 and that her ambition in her early teens was to be a ski bum. But she said music was always her priority and she has not stopped touring since her first album in 1995.
The Sochi Games run from February 7-23.
(Reporting By Pairat Temphairojana, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher/Patrick Johnston)
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