Reece Bell is a young athlete on the British Alpine Ski Team. In this blog Bell gives the Ski Club an insight on what it takes to be a national ski racer. 

I can’t remember my first time on skis, but there is a photo of it. It’s of my dad (Martin) and me standing on Vail Mountain. This is where the journey began, and it is also my home mountain in the winter.   

Vail Resorts

I didn’t start ski racing until I was seven years old when our family was living in Big Sky, Montana. As young as that seems, I’m surprised my career didn’t begin earlier seeing as both my dad and uncle (Graham) were serious racers themselves. Martin and Graham raced mostly downhill and Super G, but I am a technical (slalom and GS) skier (at least for now). There are some similarities as well, I'm on the British Ski Team as they were, we all ski on Atomic and we all love spending a day outside of gates free skiing the mountains. 

I lived in Montana for nine years and raced for the Big Sky ski team for seven seasons, but before I began high school, we moved back to Vail.

Ski and Snowboard Club Vail is one of- if not the best club in the U.S. My age group of 2001 girls is particularly strong. I was taken aback by the depth of talent at SSCV and at age 14 I had to ask myself if I was ready to work hard enough to keep up with everyone around me. 

2017 U17 US National Slalom Victory

  

Starting on the FIS circuit

Two years later, my first FIS season got off to a little bit of a rough start. The training day before what would have been my first race (in New Zealand) I dislocated my shoulder tearing my labrum in the process. After surgery and four months of recovery I finally started my first FIS race in Lutsen Minnesota, early February.

To make up for the missed time on snow last season, I spent this summer travelling around the world with the British Ski Academy, for both training and racing. This was only possible with my mom’s job as a flight attendant, and my dad’s job as a ski coach. My dad and I flew standby to every single location this summer paying only tax on our tickets, but never completely certain we would make our flights. Besides the occasional airport stress, my summer skiing experience was amazing and thoroughly unforgettable.

I spent two weeks in June at Les Deux Alpes, a resort in the French Alps. The mountains were beautiful and green and the days were generally warm and sunny up on the glacier area. These weeks were meant only for training and remembering movement patterns necessary for skiing. We went through a set of drills every day to activate muscle memory, and gradually transitioned to skiing through the gates. When we weren’t skiing, we did conditioning or participated in actual summer activities such as rafting and paintball. 

Mortmulliken.com

Off to South Africa

In between this camp and the next, I visited Great Britain to catch up with family and meet with sponsors. From Britain we flew to South Africa for the next round of skiing. Yes, you read correctly. South Africa has skiing, and snow, at the resort of Tiffindell. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trip. The nearest airport was an eight hour drive away and for the last two hours we drove up a steep windy gravel road to the resort, passing just the occasional farmhouse on the way.

To say the resort village was isolated is a major understatement. We spent ten days in South Africa, and raced a total of ten races. Each day was a double race meaning we skied four runs of slalom per day. With up to standard snow and regular lifts, I often forgot that I was in Africa. Unfortunately we saw no cheetahs or elephants but we did see ostriches and gazelles. 

South African National Championships victory

  

Australia and New Zealand

We spent the next segment of my summer in Australia and New Zealand, competing in the Australian New Zealand Cup races (ANC’s). We spent our first ten days at two resorts in Australia in full blown winter. The first was Falls Creek, where we raced two regular FIS slalom races. Next we competed in two slaloms and two GS races at Mount Hotham for the ANC’s.

The trip was overall exciting for our group as five out of nine athletes scored personal best results in the races. Winter in Australia isn’t too different than that of North America’s- besides the trees. In Falls Creek and Hotham the only trees on the mountain were eucalyptus. You could ski around and under them as if they were a wooden obstacle course.  Additionally, even though it been winter for months, none of the trees had lost their leaves resulting in a beautiful, if confusing, winter scene. 

Australia and NZ Slalom 2nd place:

    

From Australia, our group flew directly to Christchurch, New Zealand.  The views coming into New Zealand were spectacular. The country is covered in large bright blue lakes and although we didn’t fly directly into the mountains, their sharp peaks were visible from the window amongst the clouds. The series at Coronet was probably the most competitive race I have entered. Although we had two personal best scores, I felt that these races were more about experience than results. We were up against a lot of older racers, some who had competed in the World Cup and Olympics and we were able to learn a lot by watching their skiing and preparation for races.

That is my summer in a nutshell. It was more skiing than I have ever done through the months of June to August but each trip was unique learning experience. I am excited for my second year of FIS and competing as a member of Team BSS, British Ski & Snowboard.

Reece Bell is sponsored by Atomic UK, POC/ 2 Pure, Reusch UK and Leki UK.

Reece Bell's past Race Results

2018- (First & Second year FIS)
1st- British National U18 GS, France
1st- British National U18 Slalom, France
1st- FIS, SL, Falls Creek, Australia
1st- FIS SL, Lutsen Mountain
2nd- ANC SL, Mt Hotham, Australia
3rd U19, FIS SL, Winter Park
3rd U19, FIS GS, Sugarbush
5th- ANC GS Mt Hotham, Australia
5th- ANC SL Mt Hotham, Australia
7th- ANC SL Coronet Peak, New Zealand


2017- (Second year U16)
1st US U16 National Slalom Championships, Sugarbush
1st Sync Colorado Cup SL, Winter Park
1st Sync Colorado Cup GS, Eldora
1st Golden Rose SL, Mt Hood
2nd Sync Colorado Cup SL, Loveland
2nd Rocky/Central U16 Championships SL, Beaver Creek
3rd Garner Games GS, Breckenridge
3rd Loveland Derby SL