Olympic hopeful speaks at Breezy Point figure skating camp
Mariah Bell gave insight into good luck charms, training and motivation.
American figure skater Mariah Bell was a guest speaker to a rapt audience of young skaters at the Point of Perfection Figure Skating Camp on Friday, June 18, at the Breezy Point Resort Convention Center.
The event was like a return to normal for the famous 25-year-old skater.
"It's been really fun," Bell said about the camp. "I haven't been able to travel anywhere for about a year. I usually do several shows or camps throughout a year and I haven't been able to do that. I'm really excited to be here. Everybody's been so nice. I'm excited to skate later and it kind of feels like things are getting back to normal."
Bell answered campers' questions before doing a meet-and-greet with them. She revealed she thinks her biggest weakness is that she struggles with competition anxiety. She told campers that, aside from normal, healthy eating, she doesn't follow a strict diet. But her training routine is like a full-time job.
She also told campers she has a stuffed Smurf doll as a good luck charm that her past coach would hold for her during competitions. She decided not to ask her current coach to hold it while she skates.
Asked if she ever considered pairs or ice dancing, Bell said it takes a lot of courage to be thrown in the air for pairs competitions. There was an audible hush in the crowd when Bell said she landed her first single axel jump at age 8. Bell stressed that while skating is a great passion to have, the skaters should keep in mind that it is just a sport.
"Obviously, skating is so cool and we all get to experience something not everyone gets to experience, and we're all really blessed to be healthy enough to skate," Bell said. "But it's just a sport. That's something I've always had to work on too. There are so many other things in life. Once I'm done skating, it will be a part of who I am.
" There are so many other things in life. Once I'm done skating it will be a part of who I am. My parents always told me it doesn't matter what I do because skating isn't about placement. It's about who I become through skating. I think that's something really important to remember. Even if you're not having the success you think you should be having, you're learning about yourself and becoming a better person and learning things that will take you into life to become great citizens. "
— Mariah Bell.
"My parents always told me it doesn't matter what I do because skating isn't about placement. It's about who I become through skating. I think that's something really important to remember," she said. "Even if you're not having the success you think you should be having, you're learning about yourself and becoming a better person and learning things that will take you into life to become great citizens."
Bell is an award-winning figure skater. She has a gold medal from the 2020 Skate America event and silver medals from the 2020 U.S. Nationals event, 2016 Skate America and the 2016 CS U.S. International Classic event. She has bronze medals from the 2017 and 2019 U.S. Nationals events, 2019 Internationaux de France event and the 2019 Rostelecom Cup event.
She holds other honors as well as the 17th highest ranked ladies' single skater in the world by the International Skating Union.
Bell said she has been skating since age 4, when her mother would put her on the ice to make it easier to watch her while helping her older sister train on the ice. She told the skating camp that while she had sometimes considered quitting skating, she always changed her mind.
Today, she is an Olympics hopeful along with fellow students of Rafael Arutyunyan.
Point of Perfection
The Point of Perfection Figure Skating Camp celebrated its 20th year this year. It was founded when Camp Director Barb Yackel gathered coaches from the Twin Cities to run a camp for skaters throughout the area.
"One of the coaches we did get was Brian Orser, who at the time was not as seasoned as he is now," Yackel said. "He now has the reigning world ladies' champion. We've had the who's who of skating and we've just kept trying to improve every year and take it to the next level"
Camp started with 35 campers and has had as many as 100 campers at a time. This year, out of caution from the changing atmosphere due to the coronavirus, they capped the number of applicants.
In 20 years, Yackel said the format at the camp hasn't changed much aside from everything getting bigger and the specific style of trainings changing with the times.
"The format has pretty much stayed the same but we've kept with the times," Yackel said. "Off ice training class in 2001 was very different than off ice training in 2020. It's the methodology of it. We just always try to look for coaches that are going to bring something to the table for the kids."
Camp comes complete with both skills training and time for fun.
"We have a good combination of training, fun and friendships," Yackel said. "I think that has been our golden formula. There are other camps where all they do is skate, and there isn't any fun to it. Kids like to have fun. They go to Kart Kountry, they've been on the Breezy Belle, they go to the waterslide, they've been mini golfing. We've taken them to the park to play ball. We've done it all."
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or email@example.com.