Mariah Bell: “I want to show that skating career doesn’t end at the age of 18”
Interview with Mariah Bell for Russian media. Mariah told about her impressions of Skate America, which of the Russian skaters inspires her the most and shared an unusual story about one of her Russian fans.
by Anastasiia Pletneva for sport.24.ru dd.26th October 2020
What does winning Skate America mean for you and your future career?
Mariah Bell: Now we are all in a kind of bubble, so it hardly feels like some big event has passed. Although, of course, this is not a domestic competition. Everything was quite unusual, especially after such a summer and off-season, when the main thing that had to be done was to keep people healthy.
I’m happy that I managed to show such a good skating of the short program and almost a good skating of the free program, except for the last jump. I was just trying to match the character that I have in the program, it will be better further.
It is difficult to call this competition the Grand Prix, I didn’t quite feel it, but I’m still glad that we had it.
The jump content in the free program was slightly changed, although this did not significantly affect the base value of the program. And yet, in the future, will you perform a combination of two triple jumps instead of a double axel + triple toe loop?
Mariah Bell: Oh sure. In general, I would like to do several 3 + 3 combinations in order to gain points in the second half of the program. I haven’t had a three-jump combination yet, which is also a way to amplify the content.
In a recent interview, you said that you want to try quadruple jumps or triple axel. How are things going with this elements?
Mariah Bell: I want to show that age is really just numbers. There are many insanely talented figure skaters in Russia now who are much younger than me. They inspire me.
When you are about 25 years old, you are in the prime of your strength precisely in sports terms. You no longer grow, your body does not change, you know your body perfectly. Many people say that age is a hindrance. I think quite the opposite. Age is my advantage, and I want to show it.
I have an amazing technical coach – Rafael Harutyunyan, so I believe that I will perform the triple axel. And when you have a triple axel, why not make a quad? Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is a real example for me in this regard. She performs a triple axel, and also does a quadruple toe loop. And she’s just a little younger than me. I have a lot of respect for Elizaveta. Like for all other Russian skaters who are younger than me. So I want to show that skating career doesn’t end at age of 18.
Have you already tried to perform a triple axel or some kind of quad?
Mariah Bell: Yes, I train a triple axel, but I’ve never tried to do a quadruple. When you do triple jumps, you need to understand that you can potentially perform quadruple jumps.
I worked on the triple axel in December, and then I had to devote more time to preparing for the US Nationals. Then there was a quarantine, I had to regain shape. Now I’m restoring the elements, but I definitely believe that I can do a triple axel, especially with such a coach.
If we imagine that you are already doing quads, what will be your favorite jump?
Mariah Bell: I really like flip and lutz and a little less loop and salchow. But if I try to perform some quads, it will most likely be toe loop. Not that we already had a plan that we would do this and this, but if you are doing a triple axel, then why not trying a quadruple toe loop? It’s practically the same.
A couple of years ago, a new era began in men’s single skating, where it is worth highlighting Nathan Chen, who began to do several quads. Others followed him, so the level of figure skating increased a lot. Now we see the same thing in the ladies’ single skating: there are several Russian top skaters who perform quadruple jumps and thus challenge everyone else. I am proud to perform at this time, and I am ready to accept this challenge.
Nathan Chen talked about how much you inspired and motivated him during the offseason. Can you tell me do you enjoy training with him?
Mariah Bell: Sure. I treat him like a little brother, so it’s really cool to see him at the rink every day. He is a two-time world champion, insanely talented and he just amazes me with what he does. Nathan makes me better. So I am very happy that he also feels this way. We help each other to move forward.
I am glad that I have the opportunity to train with Nathan. You just come up, talk to him, and he is like: “I’m tired, I’ll try to relax a little”, and then he just makes a ton of different quads. He really motivates me.
How was your offseason? Were there any unusual training sessions due to the quarantine?
Mariah Bell: Almost for the first time in my life, I had several weeks of rest, and it was good, it took a little time to recover. My parents bought a big trailer, almost a mobile home. They sold our family home in Colorado a few years ago. My father works in Switzerland, so they are balancing between Europe and the United States. So it’s better for them to have a more mobile place of residence, when you can just go somewhere, than to have one permanent place of residence. So they just came to California and together with my sister and my rabbit we spent time on quarantine. We stopped at one of the special trailer parks, it even had a pool, so we even had the opportunity to swim.
As for the trainings, we worked a lot in the offseason with Rafael. In fact, I have never done off-ice jumps. He asked me to try some of them, and when I did, he said: “Yeah, we need to work on this, or you will harm yourself.” So I worked on jumping and work with a fitness coach together with Nathan.
Let’s talk a little about the fans. At the last Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, you did not have the American flag at hand, so in the photos from the awards ceremony you are standing next to Alexandra Trusova and Evgenia Medvedeva, who are holding the Russian flag. And on the network there is a video about Alina Zagitova, which also tells about her sister, but the footage from her workouts is actually a video of your workouts. Russian fans have even come up with a special Russian name for you – Masha Kolokolchikova. How do you feel about all this – jokes, memes?
Mariah Bell: I am very glad that I have so many fans in Russia. Of course, I also have a coach who has close ties with Russia. And, as I said, I have a lot of respect for all Russian figure skaters, although many of them are younger than me.
It was incredibly interesting to perform in Russia last year, I felt a huge support from the audience. I made friends with Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova. With Alina I had several shows in the summer. They are very good, each of them, really.
Last year, at the Grand Prix stages, both times I was on the podium with Russian figure skaters. Actually, it’s cool, because Russia now dominates in ladies. So I would be happy to be the older sister of Alina Zagitova (laughs). She is an amazing figure skater and Olympic champion.
Were there any unusual gifts from the fans or any particularly pleasant words from them?
Mariah Bell: Last year I was walking from Megasport in Moscow to a hotel, and some car passed by. We were with my mother. This car stopped and then drove back. Inside was a Russian girl who said how much she liked my skating. It was really cool: someone just stopped and turned the car the other way, just to say it.
I’m very happy that there are people who always support me, even when things are not going well.