She may be a part of British skiing royalty, but in between ecology classes Alpine skier Reece Bell is out to make her own name in the sport
At the highest levels, Alpine skiing can be a particularly insular sport, with an athlete’s ability to focus, cut out the noise, and dial the margin for error down to its smallest possible setting. So, there’s something particularly enlightening about discovering what occupies an athlete’s mind in the time they’re off the slopes.
In Reece Bell’s case, it’s also a reminder of just how young some of the most exciting talent in the sport actually is. “The main thing that keeps me occupied throughout the season is schoolwork”, she explains. The Denver University undergraduate is close to finishing a degree in Ecology, which means “some pretty challenging classes, and hours of study every week”. And where she certainly shares some of the characteristics of a typical university student – “during my breaks from school, I like to catch up on sleep!” – in others, she’s a different prospect altogether.
After all. the 20-year-old has been Slalom and Giant Slalom racing for three years now and broke onto the European Cup circuit last year with a slew of podiums at FIS, National Junior Race, National Championships, Universities and now NorAm level behind her.
An incredible result – congratulations Reece!
— GB Snowsport (@GBSnowsport) December 19, 2021
To many fans of British skiing, Reece Bell’s name carries with it a certain familiarity. As the daughter of four-time Olympian, Martin Bell, she has at times felt the weight of the family name.
“When I was younger, I felt a lot more pressure from being ‘Martin Bell’s daughter’, but I believe I’m starting to come into my own now.” Was that family connection helpful, though? She’s unequivocal in her answer. “My family has been incredibly important in my ski racing career”, she says. “I may not have gotten into the sport if not for dad and uncle (Graham, a five-time Olympic skier) inspiring me to follow in their tracks.”
And what does following in their tracks mean, for Reece? “My hope is to continue the Bell legacy. But also, I want to be recognised as someone who has put their own time and care into the sport to get to where I am today. And to where I want to get to in the future.”
The pace of Bell’s development so far has impressed many observers, and she’s firmly part of a generation of young female athletes breaking through in Alpine skiing around the world. It’s something she’s very aware of, having grown up within the sport.
“The next generation of female Alpine skiers has really started to present itself, especially in World Cup slalom. It’s exciting for me to see the younger athletes stepping it up, because they’ve got new techniques and ideas that they’re bringing into the sport. It inspires me to raise my level of skiing as well, especially for girls I’ve grown up competing against.”
As a fully-fledged member of the British Alpine squad, but one with two feet planted in the US through family, upbringing and education, Bell admits to finding it difficult to model her approach on other skiers in the British squad. She does, though, namecheck the training she’s done with Charlie Guest, from whom she’s “learned a lot about balancing fitness with skiing and maximising recovery”, developments which she recognises are crucial to the next steps in her own career.
“I’ve spent most of my career racing in the US,” she says, “where there is speed and skilled skiing, but just not the same number of competitors at that level as you see in Europe.” Her first steps at Europa Cup level served as an eye-opener. “I knew it would be high level racing, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that challenging. I was shocked by the depth of talent in Europe. I know that the step up to Europa Cup and World Cup level will require a big adjustment in my skiing, but I’m excited to compete on the surfaces and experience that top level racing.”
For now, Bell’s focused on making sure she develops her all-round game, one step at a time. “In the past I’ve set result goals, or points goals, but I don’t think it’s that helpful for me to keep those as a primary goal”, she explains. “If I’m skiing fast the points and results will follow. But for now, I’m working on staying patient and focusing on the skiing, not the numbers.”
She pauses, before the competitive instinct breaks through for just a second.
“That being said, it would be cool to win a NorAm!”
Reece Bell Biography
- Born: 2001
- Discipline: Alpine
- Squad: Europa Cup Squad
- Hometown: Eagle, Colorado
Note: Subsequent to this interview taking place, Reece Bell made her World Cup debut in Lienz, Austria, before unfortunately sustaining an ACL injury in training. Reece is now fully focused on her recovery and return to competition.
Header Image: Reece Bell on World Cup debut in Lienz, December 2021. GEPA pictures/ Armin Rauthner