It’s recently been announced that violinist-turned-skier Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson will be contesting the ban imposed on her by the International Ski Federation. This comes a week after the hearing panel “found to its comfortable satisfaction that the results of the four ladies’ giant slalom races that took place on 18 and 19 January at Krvavec were manipulated”.
Vanessa-Mae is of course no stranger to controversy, and indeed there have been issues along every route of her journey to being an Olympic competitor. When she first aimed to compete, there was considerable debate over her representation. She is a British citizen, but could not reasonably expect to be good enough for Team GB, and hoped to therefore represent Thailand, by virtue of her Thai father. Initially, the Committee in Thailand insisted that she renounce her British citizenship in order to be eligible, but this was eventually relaxed.
The event fixing scandal is however of a much more serious nature, with many angered by the allegations. In short, several Slovenian event organisers have been accused of fixing the outcomes of events with the sole purpose of allowing Vanessa-Mae to qualify. This includes both adding times and results for competitors that were not even present at the event, bringing back retired athletes to bring down overall scores, and actually changing result timings.
Ultimately, without these manipulations, Vanessa-Mae would not meet the required standard to compete at the next winter Olympic Games, which is why she has been given a worldwide four year ban. Many also question whether she should have even been at this year’s games, given that she was ranked last among all of the finishers, coming in at more than 50 seconds behind the gold medallist Slovenian Tina Maze. Many amateur skiers would likely record such times, with differences between competitors usually mere seconds. High Octane Sport note that most medallists even wear the same brand of equipment – there’s that little difference between them.
Vanessa-Mae Races Her Last Olympics
It’s not believed that the appeal will be beneficial to Vanessa-Mae, with an overturning of the ruling looking highly unlikely. The FIS president Gian-Franco Casper has already commented on the situation, and has gone on record that he believes the 2014 Games were her last.
Whether we see Vanessa-Mae back out on the slopes in any official capacity is open to debate, but what is certain is that this ban and the surrounding controversy has been particularly harmful to what was a fairy-tale-like story. Her previous achievements as a hugely successful violinist and performer may well be overshadowed by this incident.