GB Snowsport athlete Reece Bell gives Ski Club an update on her race training this year

Since my last blog, midway through last season, so much has happened. But the one thing that has not happened, for me, has been much ski-racing, unfortunately. 
 
I began February with a trip to Park City, Utah, with my Denver University team, to compete in some FIS races. I already started feeling bad during the 8-hour drive there. On the day of the first race, a Giant Slalom, I felt awful, with chills, shivers and no energy. Unsurprisingly, I finished way off the pace, in what was not a particularly high-level race, and ended up spending the next three days in bed while my team-mates raced.  
 
On returning to Denver, a test revealed that I had Influenza B with pneumonia. (In those far off days, Coronavirus was a word barely any of us had even heard.) So, I took a few weeks off skiing and rested. I lost a lot of my strength and conditioning over this time period, and I missed racing with my DU team. School was also proving very challenging over the winter, and there were a few issues that arose with missing class. It wasn’t mentally easy to take time off from skiing in the middle of the season, especially since I had just begun racing, but I wanted to be fully healthy and recovered before I started training so that I wouldn’t relapse in health.  
 
As I regained energy and gradually resumed training, near the end of February, I was encouraged by my selection to represent Team GB at the World Junior Championships in Narvik. Unfortunately, I was unable to travel to Norway, because of school conflicts. Still, perhaps that proved to be a blessing in disguise, as those championships ended up being shut down halfway through. 

Reece Bell Slalom Training

 
By March 13th I was back up to full speed and ready for a strong month of racing, through to the season's end. But of course, history had other ideas, and the world was turned upside down. I moved out of the Denver University dorm promptly and came back home to begin my quarantining. Through the ensuing "lockdown" months, I stayed in shape with a lot of fitness training in my house, and even managed to get out to ski a few times - by hiking up the mountain. From March 20th to June 6th, I was also taking a full course load from Denver University, online over the application zoom.  

Early June brought good news; Copper Mountain was reopening one chairlift - just for race training. Most days we awoke extremely early to ensure that the snow would still be hard during our training session. The session would begin at 6:30 and end by nine, and would typically be followed by a nap, then homework. The only invitees were the US Ski Team and a few selected Colorado clubs, including Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. I am very grateful to them for allowing me to train with them. We got a few valuable days in, before Colorado's snow finally melted into summer. 
There was a further boost to come: Timberline ski area, on Mt Hood in Oregon, was to open for its usual summer camps in July and August. I was lucky enough to join SSCV again for a couple more camps. In between my camps I was able to coach for “Mount Hood Summer Ski Camps” and also SSCV U14s. Coaching consisted of setting courses, carrying salt and running the courses as a demonstrator so that the athletes I was coaching could hopefully learn visually.  Coaching 9-15 year-olds gave me a fresh appreciation for the genuine underlying building-blocks of great ski technique - and also taught me some patience! The snow at Mt. Hood was warm and slushy but could be hardened somewhat by the application of salt, and I was able to benefit from some good training volume. 

At the Copper and Timberline ski areas, mask wearing, and social distancing were compulsory and strictly enforced. Happily, there were no Covid19 outbreaks at either venue and I am very thankful to both resorts for providing us with opportunities to train.  

Now, as the weather cools off and the fall colors flood in, it's time for me to return to the University of Denver. My classes will be a mix of online and face-to-face. I'll resume on-snow training with the Denver team in October, as soon as Colorado temperatures drop low enough for snowmaking. But the one thing I really want to do is race again. As for where and when my first races will be: uncertainty still rules.