Reece Bell is making a name for herself on the Slalom skis

Eighteen year old Reece Bell is making great strides with her ski racing career despite set backs that have seen her already have an ACL injury. In the intermediary FIS list, between the seasons, she sits in 201st place on the World rankings in Slalom. In a season that had a number of ‘what if’s’ she managed seven starts after recovering from the ACL injury in January and these included a season best 30 point result in slalom and would have qualified for the World Juniors had she not been suffering from Influenza B and pneumonia.

Bell finished fourth in her season best result, a University slalom race at Eldora Mountain resort. She was only just behind two of the rising stars of the Canadian World Cup slalom team, Roni Remme and Mikaela Tommy. She finished just 0.12 off the podium. Four sub 30 point results the previous season, including a race win, one of nine she has already amassed in her short career to date, means Britain has a true talent on its books.

Bell is no stranger to injuries and before Reece had her first FIS race three seasons ago she dislocated her shoulder and tore her labrum and was out for four months. At the beginning of the next season she broke her thumb and had to have surgery again and was out for several weeks. She has maybe only had one and a half years total of FIS training and racing.

How much of a shock to Bell was it that the season ended the way it did? “The corona virus became a reality to me a few days before the season ended, when the first case occurred in Colorado. I was a little surprised at how abruptly everything ended and was cancelled, but I can see the reasoning behind it, and wasn’t appalled at the actual decision,” Bell explained.

Was it a mad panic and dash to get home once the call to abandon the season was made? “Luckily, I wasn’t very far from my house, as I was at the University of Denver. In other circumstances, I would have been representing the British Team at the World Juniors and had to have commuted from Norway, but unfortunately, I was sick with Influenza B and pneumonia and unable to go to those races.”

How did Bell feel her season had gone given the late start and recovering from injury? “I felt like I was improving as time went on. I was coming back from an ACL injury this season, so I only started racing in January. After the ACL injury, the feel of slalom came back pretty quickly, but I didn’t completely feel back to 100% in GS. Right as things were starting to improve, I got the flu and was only able to complete seven races this year anyway. I feel like I had a decent season in slalom, both skiing and points wise, but I wish I had notched some better GS results.”

Now that the season is over, how is she preparing for next season in terms of fitness and looking after her sponsors and supporters? Bell is a determined character and has the support of good people behind her to help direct her in the right direction. She explains “I am going to try to ski as much as I can this summer, depending on the coronavirus restrictions. When I am not skiing, I will be doing normal off-season training including strengthening, explosive work and cardio. I have been in correspondence with my sponsors, to whom I am very grateful. If I am able to travel to the United Kingdom this summer, I will try to meet with them. Of course, all of this is conditional to the coronavirus.”

With only seven races undertaken this season, Bell’s result at Eldora, Colorado this season at the Colorado University Invitational gave her the most satisfaction: “I felt as though I gave my best effort and it was also my best ever points result, which is always a fulfilling feeling.”

Despite her tender years, Bell shows great maturity in dealing with the way the season panned out. She admits that she set herself high goals for the season, she explains: “I didn’t meet the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the season, although I am not too disappointed. I set quite high goals, but things often do not go as planned or expected in ski racing. Both corona virus and the flu greatly interfered with my season, but after my ACL injury, I have learned that patience and acceptance is the best way to deal with, and learn from setbacks.

Ski racing can be seen as an individual sport but the support of family and coaches is vital in racers achieving success. This is something that Bell recognises: “There has been so much help and support from a lot of people and I am grateful to everyone. My parents were definitely supportive as always, as well as the DU ski team. Finally, my SSCV club and the coaches were extremely helpful when I needed training.”

Living and studying in America but racing for Britain means Bell has little interaction with the British scene but understands that the need for increased funding is vital “to enable teams to get effective training and therefore improve their performance at events.”

Bell would love to see more funding but would also like to see costs reduced when possible as she feels this is a barrier to more people taking part in the sport. “Whether it be creating a larger market for reduced gear, or creating more local summer camps to reduce travel, this could help a larger range of newcomers to join the sport,” she feels.

With three more years studying at the university of Denver in America on the cards, Bell will combine reading for a degree in Environmental Science with racing with the Denver University team as well as the British team.

How is Bell looking after her mental health in this time of isolation? “Something that I find to be extremely important during these times is a routine. Even if my day is as boring as completing chores or doing homework for college, it helps me to have a set routine in place and to keep myself busy however I can, so I don’t start overthinking everything that is going on right now. Getting outside is also important, and since restrictions are easing up in Colorado, I have been able to leave the house which is nice.”

With the support of Atomic skis as well as the in depth knowledge amassed by her father, British Downhill World Cup and Olympian, Martin Bell, Reece Bell is definitely a racer to watch for the present as well as the future. Father may have been a top draw Downhiller but daughter is making a name for herself on the slalom skis!

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