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Slovenian ski officials suspended after apparently rigging qualifiers

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

vanessa vanakorn
Violinist Vanessa-Mae, after her last-place finish in sochi. (Getty Images)

Four Slovenian ski officials were suspended Friday after evidence suggests they were involved in a plot to rig pre-Olympic race results in order to allow the qualification of pop violinist Vanessa-Mae.

And yes, this is pretty much as bizarre as you would think.

Here's the backstory: Vanessa-Mae is a world-renowned musician and one-time child prodigy on the violin. She also skies, though apparently not at an Olympic level. However, she wanted to ski in the Sochi Olympics, but first she needed to qualify, and she planned to do so for Thailand, where her father is from (she was born in Singapore and now lives in England). Therefore, according to the Associated Press, she needed to accumulate enough points in four qualifying races taking place in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Slovenia.

According to the AP's report, ski officials found the results of the Slovenia race somewhat fishy, and apparently "fixed at the behest of Thai ski officials to meet her qualifying criteria for Sochi."

They apparently have a pretty strong case.

"The starting list included a person who did not even compete, a racer who fell was registered as finishing high in the standings," Slovenian ski asociation president Jurij Zurej told the AP. "In addition, the dates of the competitions did not match the actual state when the races were held."

These are some pretty glaring inconsistencies, and when coupled with the fact that Vanesa-Mae, who raced under her father's last name Vanessa Vanakorn in Sochi, was not very good at skiing, it adds up to something at least closely resembling a conspiracy.

Vanessa-Mae finished dead last in the Giant Slalom, 50 seconds behind the gold medalist.

"She was not the best skier," International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper told the AP. "I think you have seen that."

According to officials, the alleged rigging appears to be limited to the Slovenian race, and the nation's ski association has proposed a four-year suspension for those involved.

It is unclear whether Vanessa-Mae knew what was going on, and attempts by the AP to contact her went unanswered. But it appears she did have fun in Sochi!

"You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs, but if you don't take risks, what's the point? You have to enjoy life," Vanessa-Mae told the Telegraph after her second and final run.

"It was cool. I think it's hard to stay focused but I was just happy I didn't get lost, because this was my first two gates and I thought I was going to go the wrong side, but I made it down. Just the experience of being here is amazing."

 
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