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Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn, an accomplished British and Thai violinist who may have falsely qualified for Sochi, at the Beijing Olympics.     Photo: Yemisi Blake/

The Slovenian Ski Association announced today that four ski officials face four-year suspensions for allegedly falsifying race results to help violin phenom Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn, 35, qualify for the Sochi Olympics, where she finished dead last in the giant slalom.

"The starting list included a person who did not even compete; a racer who fell was registered as finishing high in the standings," association president Jurij Zurej said in an interview with the Associated Press. "In addition, the dates of the competitions did not match the actual state when the races were held." The officials' reports stated that two of the four qualifying Slovenian runs took place on January 17, when they in fact took place the following day. 

Vanakorn's camp hasn't commented on the matter, but she has long recognized she's not as gifted in skiing as in music. 

"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," Vanakorn said after her Olympic runs. She finished the giant slalom in 3 minutes, 26.97 seconds—50.1 seconds slower than Slovenian gold medalist Tina Maze.

AP writers pointed out that the investigation puts International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in a tight spot. Bach, who was photographed with Vanakorn in Sochi, recently added her to an IOC working group on culture policy.


The only "bend-and-snap" moves Witherspoon does in "Wild" pertain to making campfires.     Photo: Live For Films/Google CC

Hollywood Is Turning "Wild" into a Movie

Reese Witherspoon plays PCT hiker trying to find herself

Fans of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, take note: A trailer for the movie of the same name was released Thursday. 

Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed in the movie, which was adapted from the New York Times bestseller about a woman who turns to the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself.

And Witherspoon—who won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line—looks the part. Bare-faced and gritty, with a monster pack strapped to her back, her character trudges along 1,100 miles of the PCT, trying to cope with the recent death of her mother and the remnants of a destroyed marriage.  

The film, set to release in theaters December 5, also stars Gaby Hoffman and Laura Dern. Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed Dallas Buyers Club, is directing the film. 


Sit at your computer, put in your order, and have a drone deliver the goods straight to your homeā€”Amazon hopes to make it a reality very soon.     Photo: Chris Martin/Flickr

Amazon Drones: Coming Soon to Seattle?

Company seeks permission from FAA for test deliveries

When Amazon said it wanted to deploy drones for speedier (and cooler) deliveries, it was serious. The company has just asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to test drones outdoors in Seattle, near its headquarters.

A stamp of approval from the FAA would help put Amazon on track to make delivery drones a reality as soon as possible simply because doing research and development close to home is a lot easier. Currently, the company can test its drones only indoors or in other countries.

Amazon promises it'll be careful when it takes the drones outside. Its small unmanned aircraft would undergo testing with the help of experts like "world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut." Plus, the company will put up safeguards like a "geofence," a virtual barrier that would deactivate any drone that passes through it. No word yet from the FAA, but if it means deliveries in less than 30 minutes, we're all for it.


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A selection of Zoo Jeans' designers, hard at work.     Photo: Courtesy of Zoo Jeans

Cat Got Your Jeans?

Japanese zoo auctioning jeans "designed by dangerous animals"

We've all heard the saying "give a lion a pair of jeans to chew on and they'll sell at auction for thousands of dollars." Well, not until now.

A group of volunteers has collaborated with the Kamine Zoo in Hitachi, Japan, to auction off "the only jeans on earth designed by dangerous animals" to promote the zoo and conservation. So far, the fundraiser seems to be working. As of Friday, 15 bids had been placed for a pair of men's size 32 jeans. The current bid? $1,194.

Making the jeans is a simple process. A video on the group's site shows volunteers wrapping car tires in sheets of blue denim, setting them inside enclosures, and letting the animals at them for a few hours. Later, the group takes the pieces of "distressed" fabric and sews them into jeans.

Thus far, lions, tigers, and even bears at the zoo have helped create the one-of-a-kind designs.

"We were looking for ways to promote the zoo and wildlife conservation without spending too much," Zoo Jeans project member Takuya Miyamoto said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "We also wanted to attract a new, younger generation to take an interest in zoos. That's how we came up with the idea of zoo jeans."