GB Snowsport Alpine Ski Racer Reece Bell has her latest blog update from her season ski racing. 

This season Bell is writing a series of blogs during her race season for the Ski Club. Find our how the start of her season has gone so far! 

Happy New Year!

In terms of early season snowfall, Colorado was lucky this year. The past few years, we began skiing late October to mid- November, but I was pleasantly surprised to be on snow at Copper mountain as early as October 17th. My excitement was only slightly diminished when I awoke the next morning, at 4:30am.

Because many teams utilise the early season training at Copper, the training lanes are divided into four sections, and because most of the Ski Club Vail athletes go to school after training, we often booked the early lane at Copper. On these days, we loaded the chairlift in the dark at 6:30 and trained until 9:00 am. Keeping up with a rigid schedule of training school and sleep took a lot of discipline but would pay off later in the season. We switched our training to Gold Peak Vail mid- November.

Slalom training at Vail early season

My Thumb injury

My third day of training GS, I hopped out on to the snow. Without thinking, I put my hand on the ground and my thumb bent backward. Although it was sore, I thought it was a simple sprain and continued training without poles. I even played a game of powderpuff (American) football with my thumb in the sprain.

A week passed, and my thumb was still painful and now significantly bruised. Just to rule out any worse scenarios, I received an x-ray from Steadman Clinic home to some of the best orthopaedic surgeons in the world. Many people travel to Vail just to be treated by these doctors. As a tribute to this fact, the halls of this clinic are lined with signed US football and basketball jerseys, ski bibs and signed posters from athletes and celebrities. 

The x-ray revealed I had broken my thumb. Luckily, Dr. Randy Viola scheduled me for surgery two days later on October 31st. I was devastated to learn that my healing time would be 4-6 weeks, but Dr. Viola assured me I would still be able to train during this time. As well as being cast and protected the entire time, my broken bone was mended together with a titanium plate, that is still in my hand. 

Ready to go home after a successful surgery

Back training

Training (and racing) in a cast was not without its challenges. I had to cut a large hole in glove, and jacket to fit it over the cast. Additionally, your wrist is in a different position for slalom than it is for GS. I had to schedule my casting appointments around my days of training to accommodate for this, and at every appointment, I would bring my poles to mold the cast around. After six weeks and six different casts, I was cleared to ski without one.

Custom cast for slalom

Beaver Creek World Cup

Another benefit to living in Vail is the Beaver Creek World Cup. Every year, Ski Club Vail volunteers to help at the men's Downhill, Super G and GS races at Birds of Prey. Athletes slip the course and adjust panels in between racers. I never realised how much goes into to hosting a World Cup until actually working on one. We able to fully experience the race as we were on the actual arena watching racers sail past. On the final day, we watched the men's GS run from the stands.

Watching Beaver Creek World Cup with my friends

The racing begins!

I had my first race late November, and another at the beginning of December. Not everything went to plan during these times, but I tried to learn from each one. All these early season competitions were in Colorado. Right before Christmas, I won my first FIS race of the season at Steamboat Springs - a slalom. Looking back at the beginning of the season, I remember thinking about my upcoming races, wondering how everything would play out. 

Wearing the customised team bib during training at Vail

Looking forward

There have been many highs and lows already, but I’m primarily surprised at how quick it has gone by without me even noticing. I suppose when you are deeply engaged in something you care about it's easy for time to slip your mind.

I don’t know what the future of my season holds, because a few important decisions will be made in January that could affect which races I attend, but I will be sure to keep you updated!

Follow Bell's season on our racing and riding section of our website!