KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Don't give up the day job, Vanessa-Mae.
The Sochi Games were good to the diva of violin classical pop. She now gets to call herself an Olympian having survived — the word "compete" isn't really applicable — the giant slalom.
After gingerly completing both runs, she applied some lipstick, checked her look in a pocket mirror, strapped on a watch from a sponsor, pushed up her coat sleeve to make sure it was visible on her wrist, and then went out to bathe in the attention of the world's media.
She laughed for the microphones. She said how "really cool" it all was. She slipped in how she plans to celebrate her Olympic participation by donating "a heap of money" to animal charities. And the whole while, a man who followed along at her side — he wouldn't say who he was — made sure she was holding a branded pair of skis when speaking to camera and that the manufacturer's name was clearly visible.
All in all, it looked like a pretty fruitful day for Vanessa-Mae Inc. And, if you're Vanessa-Mae, an absolute hoot.
"The Olympics is like the greatest show on Earth and to just share the same snow, to be able to slide down the same snow that the elite skiers carve down is just an honor and a privilege," she said. "So, you know, when I get to even train with some of them for like two runs, sometimes I'm already a little bit like, 'Ooh, that's so cool!' So imagine to be in the same race as them."
But what do the Olympic Games get in return? From a competitive standpoint, absolutely nothing.
When Tina Maze hit the slope, you knew that you were watching the best of the best. Bullying the slalom course, aggressively thwacking past the gates, the Slovenian embodied the Olympic motto — "Faster, Higher, Stronger" — as she raced to gold.
Top competitors hate to lose. They sulk. They beat themselves up. They cry. They vow they'll do better next time.
But Vanessa-Mae didn't seem to care that she was last of the 67 finishers, that she was short on style and slowest of those who finished in both runs. Or that her combined time for both was 50 seconds slower than Maze's. That is an eternity in ski racing. The margin between Maze's gold and Anna Fenninger's silver was just 0.07 seconds.
"I expected to be last but, you know, at the end of the day the Olympics is a great opportunity," Vanessa-Mae said after her first run. "My main purpose for being here was to really have a good time, to improve my skiing in a very, very short amount of time."