Coming into the South African races at Tiffindell, much was expected of Reece Bell. There was pressure on her after some super impressive results in her first season but a batch of six wins and four results in the sixties from the ten races was a strong return for the daughter of Martin Bell, ex British Olympic downhill racer (with a best of eighth in Calgary). As part of the british Ski Academy squad that went out to South Africa, including Daisi Daniels, a leading light of U16 racing last year in Britain.
The final podium count for British athletes was very impressive: Bell took six wins and a second, Daisi Daniels took three podiums with a best score of 77 in coming second in the second FIS race; The men took seven wins between them with Robert Trebilcock taking 3 wins and a second, Tom Cherry 1 win, 2 seconds and 5 thirds and Jake Doyle 3 wins, with a best result of 58.13. There was also a strong performance by Diaco Abrishami with 7 top tens and a best result of 72.
So what is racing in South Africa like? Sam Carson gave the low down from the 2017 races, Reece Bell explains how things were from the girls races this year.
“Each day, we race four runs which can be a little tiring, but at the same time there is less pressure on each run. Generally, there are two courses set and we alternate between them during the four runs which makes it easier to improve from race to race, because you already have a strategy for the course set.
“With only 22 girls competing there is usually less of a break in between each run. The weather has been sunny all week, but there is a lot of wind so we have scheduled weather days to break up the racing if necessary.
“For the FIS entry leagues we only raced on half the slope which was fairly flat and short, more of a sprint slalom. Then for the citizen races, FIS normal races and National Junior Championships we skied the entire hill, which included a steep slope of about ten turns at the beginning.”
Bell did not come into the races with no preparation. She spent two weeks training with BSA at Les Deux Alpes. “I also did a lot of box jumps at home in Colorado to prepare for the slalom skiing,” she explained.
And about Tiffendell itself, Bell explained “Tiffindell is in an extremely remote location. There is no civilization around the resort, only grasslands. The nearest town is a two and half hour drive away. This can sort of lead to days blending together. Therefore the most difficult aspect of this race has been staying mentally focused on the racing, and making the time on snow count.”
With the British Ski Academy having returned, what did they think of the experience? “All our athletes’ pushed themselves to perform personal bests and really did us proud. This trip also helped our first year FIS athletes score points before the northern hemisphere winter season,” they posted on their Facebook page.
Picture courtesy of British Ski Academy Facebook page