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This article is about the person. For the minor planet named after her, see 10313 Vanessa-Mae.
Vanessa-Mae 2014.jpg
Mae attends the 'Collars & Coats Gala Ball', October 2014
Born (1978-10-27) 27 October 1978 (age 36)
Residence London, United Kingdom[citation needed]
Nationality British[1]
Other names Vanessa Vanakorn
  • Violinist
  • Musician
Years active 1990–present
Musical career
Instruments violin
Website[dead link]

Vanessa-Mae (born 27 October 1978),[2] is a British violinist with album sales reaching several million, having made her the wealthiest entertainer under 30 in the United Kingdom in 2006.[3] She competed under the name Vanessa Vanakorn for Thailand in alpine skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but months later was banned from competition after the event that qualified her for the Olympics was found to have been manipulated[1][4] and therefore, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS), she "did not qualify and should not have been participating in the Sochi 2014 Games."[5] She has appealed the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore[7] to Vorapong Vanakorn,[8] an English hotelier of Thai ancestry[9] who lives in Singapore.[8]

In 1996, Vanessa-Mae's birth father publicly criticised and disowned her, adding that "she looks like a soft-porn showgirl",[8] after seeing pictures of his scantily clad daughter to promote her albums.[8] Vanessa-Mae's mother and stepfather defended her, saying that her image is none of his business.[8]

Musical career[edit]

Vanessa-Mae became notable in the United Kingdom in her childhood making regular appearances on television (such as Blue Peter) mostly involving classical music and conservative style. She made her international professional debut at age ten in 1988 at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, and the same year made her concerto debut on stage with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.[citation needed] At age thirteen, she became the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, according to Guinness World Records.[10]

After entering her teens, Vanessa-Mae broke away from her traditional classical influences and became known for her more distinct appearance, appearing in music videos in more stylised outfits.[citation needed] Her first pop-style album, The Violin Player, was released in 1995. She appeared on the 1997 Janet Jackson album The Velvet Rope playing a violin solo on the song "Velvet Rope".[11]

Vanessa-Mae was managed by her mother, who owns a private recording label and music agency, until 1999,[citation needed] when Vanessa-Mae fired her as her manager.[12]

On 7 March 2002 Vanessa-Mae performed a variation of Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – "Summer: III. Presto"[citation needed] during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Paralympics.[13]

In April 2006, Vanessa-Mae was ranked as the wealthiest young entertainer under 30 in the UK in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, having an estimated fortune of about £32 million[3] stemming from concerts and record sales of over an estimated 10 million copies worldwide.[citation needed]

In 2006, Vanessa-Mae announced that she would be releasing a new album sometime between 2007 and 2008. The album was said to draw inspiration from classic ballets and opera themes. A new album was expected in 2009,[14][unreliable source?] but the year ended without the expected release.[according to whom?]

Human rights controversy[edit]

In October 2011, Vanessa-Mae attended celebrations in Chechnya on the birthday of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov along with several other celebrities, "played a bit of Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' utterly mechanically" according to The Moscow Times reporter Anna Malpas,[15] and reportedly receiving $500,000 for her performance. When asked where the money comes from to pay for performances, Kadyrov replied that "Allah gives it to us".[16] Human rights groups, who had urged the celebrities to cancel their appearances because of human rights abuses carried out under Kadyrov, criticised her and other celebrities for attending the event.[17]


Vanessa-Mae is said to have occasionally recorded her own compositions. Her 1997 album China Girl: The Classical Album 2 included performances said to be composed by her: Violin Fantasy on Puccini's 'Turandot' and Reunification Overture, marking the reunification of China and Hong Kong.[18]

Skiing career[edit]

Vanessa-Mae has said that she "started skiing around the same time as I began playing the piano, at around four, before moving to the violin at five",[19] and that it had been her "dream to be a ski bum since I was 14."[20] Vanakorn attempted to represent Thailand for the 2002 Winter Olympics, but was unable to do so at the time, as the Thai Olympic Committee had requested she give up her British citizenship, which she was not ready to do.[21][not in citation given] In 2009 Vanessa-Mae took up residence in the Swiss alpine resort of Zermatt.[22] In August 2010, she told the The Telegraph, "I am British, but realistically there is no way I could represent my own country, but because my natural father is Thai, they have accepted me."[19] She registered as a Thai alpine skier.[23]

Qualifying event[edit]

In 2014, Thailand had no Alpine skiiers in the top 500, and Olympic rules allowed such countries to send one man and one woman to the Olympics slalom and giant slalom, based on alternative criteria: The skiier must have 140 points or less, smaller scores being better under the International Ski Federation (FIS) system,[24][25] while starting at least five internationally recognized slalom or giant slalom events.[20][24][25]

At the request of Vanessa-Mae's management and the Thai Olympic Committee, a giant slalom competition was organized by the Alpine Ski Club Triglav and took place on 18 and 19 January 2014 at Krvavec in Slovenia, and would be the last chance for Vanessa-Mae to achieve the FIS-recognized score to qualify for the February 2014 Olympics.[4] The event included a national junior championship, in which she was 14 years older than any of the competition.[25]

The event put her score under the 140-point average,[24] dropping it from 269.44 on 11 January to 131.15 at the end of 19 January.[26][27] Her manager Giles Holland said "It would appear that she's done it. She's done it by a whisker, but she's done it."[20][24] FIS confirmed her eligibility to compete in the 2014 Olympics,[24] with Ana Jelusic of the FIS mentioning that the Krvavec results "ticks all the boxes".[25]

A Swiss race on 3 and 4 February raised her score to 171.09.[26]

Olympic results[edit]

Vanessa-Mae at the Southbank Centre, London, England, carrying the Olympic torch, April 2008.

She represented Thailand at the 2014 Winter Olympics as an alpine skier with the name Vanessa Vanakorn.[24] She became the second-ever Winter Olympian for Thailand,[25] leading the largest ever Thai delegation at a Winter Olympics: two skiers.[28]

On 18 February 2014, Vanakorn finished 74th of 90 skiers, with a time of 1:44.86 on her first run at Giant Slalom, 26.98 seconds behind the leader. She started in the 87th position, representing her relative ranking in the world giant slalom rankings.[29] In run 2, she had a time of 1:42.11, 24.21 seconds behind the leader of run 2.[30] She started 74th in run 2, the last starter for run 2.[31] At the end of the event, she had a total time of 3:26.97, 50.10 seconds behind the gold medal winner, Tina Maze of Slovenia. She was last among the finishers, ranking 67th.[32]


On 10 July 2014 four Slovenian ski competition organizers were each given four-year bans on working with Slovenian Ski Union (Smučarska zveza Slovenije) and FIS competitions because of supposedly fixed Sochi Winter Olympics qualifications for the Thai ski team at Krvavec in January 2014[33] – with the only goal to successfully qualify Vanessa Mae.[34]

On 11 November 2014, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Hearing Panel issued its own findings about the Krvavec event less than 10 months earlier: The weather was such that no regular race could be held; the competition's referee said that "any comparable competition in Slovenia would have been cancelled". A previously-retired competitor took part in the alleged competition solely to lower (improve) the scores of the participants. The official results of "approximately 23 competitors" for the two races on 18 January included results at least two people who in fact did not attend. The official results for two giant slalom races on 19 January also included results for a person who was not even present at the Krvavec competition. One competitor who fell was given an official timing 10 seconds better than reality, and put in second place in the official results. At least one participant started outside the starting wand; afterward, the starter manually triggered the starting wand.[4]

The Hearing Panel issued a worldwide four-year ban against Vanessa-Mae,[1][4] two-year ban against the Chief of Race Borut Hrobat, and one-year bans against the FIS Technical Delegate, Chief of Timing, Referee, and Starter.[4] FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper commented to Associated Press concerning the violations: "Those who have been sanctioned have been sanctioned for good reason. At first we were laughing when we heard it. But then we realised it's quite a serious thing."[35]

As two or more participants worked in combination to violate the rules, the FIS Hearing Panel recommended that all four events during the Krvavec competition be annulled. The Hearing Panel noted that, if the results were to be annulled by the FIS Council, it will mean that Vanessa-Mae, Federica Selva of San Marino, and Ieva Januškevičiūtė of Lithuania will have not actually qualified for the 2014 Olympic Games.[4] Vanessa-Mae issued a statement calling the ban "nonsensical"[36] and saying "we will" appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.[37]

The FIS Council met on 18 November and cancelled the results of "all four giant slalom races" at Krvavec and issued a press release saying that "Vanessa Vanakorn (THA) who competed in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games therefore did not qualify and should not have been participating in the Sochi 2014 Games." The FIS Council was of the opinion that Fredrica Selva and Ieva Januškevičiūtė "were victims of the manipulated races", and forwarded the information to the International Olympic Committee.[5]

Vanessa-Mae filed appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 4 December 2014 against both the FIS Hearing Panel and the FIS Council.[6] The International Olympic Committee has said it will not act until it knows the results of any appeals.[1]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2007, Vanessa-Mae's long-term boyfriend was Lionel Catalan.[38] Vanessa-Mae has expressed a lack of interest in marriage, saying "you don't need a ring to say I love you".[38]



  • Live at the Royal Albert Hall, The Red Hot Tour (1995) (concert documentary)
  • The Violin Fantasy (1998)
  • Arabian Nights (2000) (actor in the series)
  • The Making of Me (2008) (subject of episode 3)


  1. ^ a b c d "Vanessa-Mae: Skiing violinist banned for four years". BBC Sport. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Vanessa Vanakorn at the International Ski Federation
  3. ^ a b "Vanessa-Mae tops young rich list". BBC News. 21 April 2006. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Decision of FIS Hearing Panel: Thai competitions in Slovenia" (Press release). Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland: International Ski Federation. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Decisions of the Autumn 2014 FIS Council Meetings in Oberhofen (SUI)" (Press release). Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland: International Ski Federation. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  6. ^ a b "Violinist Vanessa-Mae appeals against skiing ban". BBC Sport. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  7. ^ Ting, Lisabel (29 October 2014). "Vanessa-Mae's Singapore-born pianist mother to perform at Marina Bay Sands". Straits Times. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Green, Jonathan (13 June 1996). "A parting that plays on the heart-strings". The Independent. 
  9. ^ Fox, Chloe. "MO People: Vanessa-Mae; Melody Maker". Destination MO. Mandarin Oriental Hotel. 
  10. ^ Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records Ltd. 2003. p. 191. ISBN 1-892051-17-6. 
  11. ^ Easlea, Daryl (2010). "Review of Janet Jackson – The Velvet Rope". BBC Review. BBC. 
  12. ^ Deacon, Michael (7 August 2008). "Vanessa-Mae's journey from prodigy to performer". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ceremonies". Salt Lake 2002 Legacy. Redondo Beach, California: The Givens Company. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  14. ^ Vanessa-Mae at Westonbirt Arboretum
  15. ^ Malpas, Anna (7 October 2011). "In the Spotlight". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Hollywood stars fly in on Chechen leader's birthday". BBC News. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Classic Drive with Julia Lester (19 October 2011). "Vanessa-Mae shamed for playing for Chechen president – Classical Music". Limelight Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 
  18. ^ Walsh, John (24 January 1998). "Living doll". The Independent (London). Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "Vanessa-Mae: I want to be an Olympic skier". The Telegraph (London). 8 August 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c Sarah Knapton (20 January 2014). "Winter Olympics 2014: violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for Thailand at the Sochi Games". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  21. ^ Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi (2014). "Vanessa VANAKORN". XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  22. ^ Anthon, Kaye (29 July 2010). "Ski statt Geige: Vanessa Mae startet 2014 bei Olympia". Blick (in German). Retrieved 14 October 2011. Ich fahre so gerne Ski, dass ich meinen Wohnsitz von London nach Zermatt verlegt habe 
  23. ^ "VANAKORN Vanessa (905000)". FIS (International Ski Federation). Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f Williams, Ollie (20 January 2014). "Violinist Vanessae-Mae set to compete at Winter Olympics". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Thai Skier Vanessa Vanakorn Qualifies for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics". Chiangrai Times. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Athlete : VANAKORN Vanessa : Results". Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland: International Ski Federation. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  27. ^ "FIS Race – Ladies' Giant Slalom 19.01.2014". Oberhofen am Thunersee, Switzerland: International Ski Federation. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  28. ^ AFP (21 January 2014). "Vanessa Mae to swap violin for skis in Sochi". Yahoo News. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  29. ^ Sportsnet, Women's Giant Slalom – run 1, airdate: 18 February 2014 @ circa 2:00AM EST (video)
  30. ^ "Vanessa Vanakorn". CBC Olympics. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  31. ^ Sportsnet, Women's Giant Slalom – run 2, airdate: 18 February 2014 (video)
  32. ^ "Alpine Skiing – Women's Giant Slalom". CBC Olympics. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  33. ^ "Vanessa Mae qualifies for Sochi at Krvavec ski resort". RTV Slovenia. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  34. ^ "Epilog škandala že znan: prepoved delovanja zaradi primera Mae". 10 July 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "Vanessa-Mae banned over fixed Olympic qualifiers". Associated Press. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  36. ^ Hope, Nick (16 November 2014). "Violinist Vanessa-Mae to contest 'nonsensical' skiing ban". BBC. Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  37. ^ Zaccardi, Nick (14 November 2014). "Vanessa-Mae to challenge ski ban, calls it 'nonsense'". NBC OlympicTalk (NBC Sports). Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  38. ^ a b "Mae Rejects Marriage". 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 

External links[edit]