Post by Admin on Apr 18, 2020 2:04:23 GMT
After a show-stopping performance of her “Hallelujah” free skate at the U.S. Championships, Bell was poised to improve on her ninth-place finish at last season’s worlds. While she admits she doesn’t know how this long break will affect her jumps – “I guess we’ll see what happens when I get back on the ice” – she is positive about her 2020-21 campaign.
“I have this upcoming season and a season after that until the  Olympic Games, and this might be the perfect break I need, and maybe didn’t even know I needed,” she said. “I’m excited to build on the momentum I gained this past season.”
The Bells spend much of the day outside, where paddleboard, swimming and other outdoor activities are available. Mariah stays fit with a regimen provided by the Olympic Training Center (OTC); sometimes, Morgan and Andrew join in. In the evening, she and mom Kendra go for walks.
“The distance of the whole motor coach country club we’re at is about two miles, so I can run that or walk that,” Bell said. “People have golf carts, so they kind of drive around. Everybody in this community is very nice, but if they do stop and talk, everybody is very cautious of their spatial surroundings.”
Thus far, none of the Bells has been tempted to overdose on Netflix.
“Sometimes, we watch, but it’s honestly hard to stay inside the RV,” Mariah said. “My dad bought a VR (virtual reality gaming system) and I really enjoy watching my sister try to box, that’s really amazing for me.”
The RV has a bedroom, big enough for a king-sized bed, as well as a full kitchen, spacious living area and two bathrooms. Morgan sleeps on a pull-out couch, while Mariah has a cot. The lower portion of the vehicle is devoted to storage, with a laundry area and large freezer.
Most important, the kitchen table has a leaf, making it comfortable for all four Bells to sit down to family dinner. “It’s been great in that respect for both Kendra and I,” said Andrew, who awakes at 2 or 3 a.m. to work remotely. “Usually, we only see the girls a couple of times a year, so to be able to spend time with them, work out with Mariah and Morgan, go paddle boarding – we can get out and do things we haven’t been able to do together in a long time.”
“Just the idea of sitting down together to have dinner, because we haven’t been together in so long, even something like that is different,” Mariah said. “Those moments are very special.”
Post by Admin on Apr 19, 2020 0:23:33 GMT
“Those moments are very special.”
Morgan’s career, too, was interrupted by coronavirus. For the past six years, she has portrayed the lead role of “Anna” in the Disney on Ice North American Frozen production. When the tour stopped in Ottawa, Ontario last month, cast members got word the remainder of the stops were cancelled.
“The show was scheduled to go to mid-May, so got sent home pretty early, but obviously we understood it was for the safety of everybody,” she said. “I was lucky enough to be able to come home and be able to spend time with my family and not be quarantined by myself.”
Morgan competed in three U.S. Championships before retiring from competition in 2013. She looks forward to resuming her Disney on Ice career as soon as possible after the coronavirus crisis ends.
“Skating is such a small thing, but at the same time it would be nice to get back to shows, because I feel shows offer a moment for families to step outside everything that is happening in the daily world, have fun and make a memory,” she said.
Amidst family time, staying fit and, perhaps, stargazing at Palm Springs’ famously beautiful night sky, Mariah is strategizing for the 2020-21 season. She’s sticking with the same choreographers: Adam Rippon for her short program, and Shae-Lynn Bourne for the free skate.
“We have in mind what I am going to use for my short, but we don’t have anything for the long yet,” she said. “With Adam, we figure it out further in advance. With Shae-Lynn, it’s (closer) to the time frame of doing the work, maybe a few days before. She is so great at understanding and relating to a skater and what they want.”
Great though it was, Bell is not tempted to use “Hallelujah” a free second season.
“The last time I performed that program at nationals is a great memory to have,” she said. “I could never foresee me doing any better than that.”
Post by Admin on Aug 26, 2020 4:23:59 GMT
Mariah Bell couldn’t hear her music over the loudspeaker inside the arena. And that was for good reason.
As the American figure skater performed the closing seconds of her “Hallelujah” free skate at the 2020 US Figure Skating Championships, the crowd inside the Greensboro Coliseum rose to its feet, roaring in approval of what many consider to be one of the standout performances of the truncated 2019-20 figure skating season.
“It was so incredible… I feel like it's a moment that I had envisioned so many times,” Bell tells Olympic Channel in an exclusive chat. “I believe in manifesting events, (but) you obviously can't manifest something if you don't put in the work.”
Work is something the Southern California-based Bell hasn’t shied away from, finishing on the American podium in three of the last four seasons – her silver in January her best-ever result – and securing herself a spot in the top 10 in the world, following a season in which she won two Grand Prix bronze medals, her first ISU Challenger gold (at Nebelhorn) and skated that chill-inducing free skate performance in January.
“It's by far the best season of my career,” says Bell. “I've been able to look back and I'm so proud of everything that I've done. I had a lot of huge moments and, overall, (my) consistency was much better than I have had in any other season.”
While Bell trains alongside two-time world champion and compatriot Nathan Chen with coach Rafael Arutunian, some of that credit is owed, she says, to Olympic team bronze medallist Adam Rippon, her friend and former training mate, whom she added to her coaching staff at the outset of the 2019-20 season.
“Bringing in Adam was, I think, a huge part of my success last year,” says Bell, who previously had Rippon on as a choreographer.
Part of what Rippon has helped Bell channel is an edgier on-ice persona, which Adam became known for at the close of his career. Her short program last year was to Britney Spears, and this season Rippon has choreographed her short to “Glitter in the Air” by pop artist Pink.
And for the free skate? Bell’s other choreographer, Shae-Lynn Bourne, has laid out a fan favourite for her: ABBA.
“I've done some slower (programs) the last few seasons, and it was kind of like… as much as I would love to do something like that again, I need to push myself out of my boundaries a little bit,” she explains. “I'm super excited about it. I've got ‘Dancing Queen’ in there, and then I also have a slower part with ‘The Winner Takes it All.’”
“It's just something different. … I feel like these two programs have the potential, again, to be so special for me.”
Post by Admin on Aug 26, 2020 22:17:04 GMT
With last season’s world championships in Montreal cancelled due to COVID-19, the Grand Prix Series this coming fall, the ISU said earlier this month, would be limited: Skaters would be sent to one assignment vs. their normal two, and most would go to regional events, meaning Bell would likely compete at Skate America in late October.
But after spending several weeks with her parents and sister, Morgan (who performs as Anna for Disney on Ice), in a camper in the Palm Springs area in April and May, Bell returned home to the greater Los Angeles area and Great Park Ice, where she has been training – with social distance measures in place – with Chen and Arutunian, though without her boyfriend, the French skater Romain Ponsart, who remains in France.
She says the elongated training time has allowed her to work on aspects of her skating that usually get swept aside due to competition preparations, including the sought-after triple Axel.
In a wide-ranging video call with Olympic Channel, Bell – with her bunnies Gizmo and Turbo hopping around nearby – discussed the challenges that the pandemic has put on her training, what she’s still aiming to accomplish in the sport, her relationship with Arutunian and Rippon and much, much more.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
A season to remember
Olympic Channel (OC): Mariah, let’s first look back at last season. How do you reflect on it? You said it was your best ever?
Mariah Bell: Yeah, I think so. It's funny because while it was happening, it was just really awesome, but I was always focused to the next thing. It was: ‘OK, got that accomplished, now let’s move on to the next thing.; It's fun to look back now and think through it and see all the things that I really did and like you say, I think it's. I think it’s the combination of the two years with Rafael, the extra experience, adding in Adam to help me train… you know, I'm really, really proud of everything that happened last season.
OC: We talked a little bit about this earlier, but that moment at nationals… your free skate, the standing ovation. What are your memories of that?
Bell: As you start to put in the work, you can see these things happening. You're like, ‘Oh, this could really happen… I could really have an awesome nationals.’ And that's what I wanted to do with “Hallelujah,” because it was a program that is so special to me and I loved training it. I did so many run-throughs of it again and again and again and over and over. And I loved it every single time.
At [U.S. Championships] I remember thinking, ‘This is unreal.’ I felt like I had to, like, gasp for air at the end because I just couldn't believe that it happened. I remember seeing my parents jumping up and down. And I think that’s what made me emotional, because through everything, different coaches, living in different places, my parents have always, always supported me and been the constant through it all. To be able to share that with them as well meant a lot to me.
Post by Admin on Aug 29, 2020 21:34:23 GMT
Adding in Adam Rippon
OC: You have this huge crescendo, but then decide not to go to Four Continents in South Korea. But then worlds are cancelled. How do you reflect on that?
Bell: This thing [COVID-19] has spread, you know, starting in one place to the entire world. It shows how truly connected we are. And beyond that, how insignificant figure skating is. And, you know, sometimes I think especially if skaters we need that [reminder] because skating is our whole world. I think it was a good moment to kind of put everything in perspective and understand how lucky I am to do what I do. And to have the help to be able to do what I do. And, you know, so I understood [words being cancelled]. I understood. But there was this part of me, this selfish athlete, that was like, ‘You know, I do I do feel like there is an opportunity missed. But, you know, it happened.
OC: You have known Adam Rippon for a long time, having been his training partner, then bringing him on as a choreographer and now coach. How did that all happen?
Bell: I remember when he was training (with us) he was just this leader. If there was a question or a problem, (then) it was Adam who had the answer; he was always so helpful. Last year at Champs Camp (the U.S. training camp each season prior to the Grand Prix), I was kind of struggling and I went to Rafael and said as much. And he's like, ‘I've explained to you what to do, but you haven't done it.’
(Laughing) I was like, ‘Yikes.’
It was this slap of reality. He was joking, I think… while still being honest and not sugarcoating things. He said, ‘If you need somebody to hold your hand, I'm not going to do it.’ It made sense… I shouldn't have been leaning on him for the same problem over and over. I needed to move forward. And that's exactly what he's trying to get across to me. I was like, ‘Oh, he's so mean.’ (Laughing.) Rafael says, ‘Call Adam.’ I got off the ice and thought, ‘I will call Adam.’ And I did. And, you know, it was everything that Rafael told me… I respect so much because he treats me like an adult and really forces me to take ownership of my training and my skating.
I call Adam and tell him that I felt stuck. And Adam's like, ‘I've been there. I've been there with Rafael. I know exactly what we need to do.’ And the best part about it is that Adam and Rafael are so close; they have so much respect for each other. It was so easy to bring Adam in and just kind of have him start with me. He wanted to even train himself some more because he missed the idea and challenge of training.
We do our first week and Adam is like, ‘I'm coming every day. We’re (going to) do crazy stuff. And it was really hard. And I remember thinking, ‘This is what I need. And I said, ‘Adam, you're my coach now. You're going to be a coach.’ And he was like, ‘OK, I can do that.’
Adam has a crazy busy schedule (but) he was always was able to make time and is always able to make time (still). And I'm so fortunate for that. Adding him was great because he just freshened up everything that I needed to be.