The Untold Truth Of Olympic Figure Skater Mariah Bell

Born on April 18, 1996, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, figure skater Mariah Bell is a force to be reckoned with (via Team USA). According to her website, she began skating in Charleston, South Carolina, when she was only 3 years old. This is thanks to Bell's older sister, Morgan, who took an interest in the sport first. Bell's mother would subsequently enroll both girls in skating lessons and the rest, as they say, is history. The Los Angeles Times writes that Bell's family moved around throughout her childhood due to her father's job. Thus, skating has always felt like "home" to her.

Morgan would later become a skater for Disney on Ice. As for Bell, she was determined to make figure skating her career early on and started competing back in 2008 (per U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone). Nonetheless, she would go on to have a relatively balanced life for an athlete. The U.S. Sun reports that she would not begin serious training until she moved to Monument, Colorado after graduating high school in 2014. This is a rarity in the figure skating world, as most professionals begin their training before they even start high school.

Mariah Bell, history maker

According to the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone, Bell was a bronze medalist in 2017 and 2019. In 2020, she became a silver medalist. However, everything would change in 2022. Per USA Today, Bell would win her first U.S. Figure Skating Championship at 25-years-old. This would effectively make her the oldest U.S. woman to win a national championship since 1927. PopSugar reports that most professional figure skaters compete as teenagers and retire soon after. This is not the case for Bell. She later told The New York Times that "skating doesn't end at a certain age."

Per NBC Sports, Bell would once again make history, as this win meant she was also heading to the winter Olympics. This would make her the oldest American skater at the Olympics since 1928. In comparison, her teammates Alysa Liu and Karen Chen are 16 and 22 respectively (via The Los Angeles Times). Liu, for example, won her first national championship at 13. Bell was 25. Nonetheless, she continues to reiterate that to her, age is nothing but a number and that "everybody's journeys are different." Bell has also stated that she personally does not bring up her age much because it has "no effect" on her.

Mariah Bell never gave up on her Olympic dreams

Despite starting her training later in life and being in her mid-20s, Bell (seen on the end at the right) was always intent on becoming an Olympian (via The Los Angeles Times). When it was announced that she had made the Olympic team in January 2022, she expressed to NBC Sports that achieving a dream had no time limit. Bell even told The New York Times that she was well aware that at age 25, she was considered to be "ancient." However, this meant nothing to her as she wants to prove that figure skaters should not have an "expiration date."

Per USA Today, Bell said that becoming an Olympian felt "unreal" as she has long been fighting to reach this "ultimate goal." When asked if she feels like she missed out on certain milestones, including receiving college degrees or other ventures, Bell said no as she feels that few people can say that they have been an Olympian. PopSugar reports that she credits her family for her success as she says they never pressured her into the sport. This would ultimately "nurture" Bell's love for figure skating.

Mariah Bell's fairy godmother

One of Bell's coaches is none other than former Olympian Adam Rippon (per The New York Times). Per NBC Sports Rippon refers to himself as her "fairy godmother" as he ultimately transformed her career. When Bell's main coach Rafael Arutyunyan said she was "disorganized" as she came off a woeful 2019-2020 preseason, he suggested she call Rippon. Rippon is an Olympic bronze medalist who retired in 2018. Using pop hits from Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, he choreographed "every season" during the Olympic cycle. Rippon has also stated that his goal was to show that even at 25, Bell was in the "best shape" of her life.

PopSugar writes that the figure skaters are also friends off the rink. He has recommended that she skates not for medals or wins but for "herself." Bell has noted that he "brings in the fun" when it comes to training and credits him for bringing a lighter ambiance to the rink (via People). Her other coach, Rafael Arutyunyan, is known for being Michelle Kwan's former trainer. Bell has said that he is "old school" and "demanding." Nonetheless, she believes both coaches have helped her become a champion and ultimately, an Olympian.

Mariah Bell was accused of bullying another skater

In 2019, Insider reports that Bell, then 22, was accused of "deliberately slashing" fellow figure skater Lim Eun-soo, while they were both warming up on the rink. According to Fox News, the incident occurred in Japan during the World Figure Skating Championships. Eun-soo was skating at the edge of the rink when she reported that Bell "kicked and stabbed" her calf with her skate's blades. The then 16-year-old South Korean skater stated that Bell did not apologize and had, in fact, been bullying her "for months." At the time, both Bell and Eun-soo shared the same trainer; Rafael Arutyunyan. Despite the injury, she was able to skate and placed fifth in the competition.

People reports that Bell was later cleared of any wrongdoing by The International Skating Union, as they found "no evidence" she had purposely hurt Eun-soo. She stated the entire incident was an accident and that she had meant "no harm." Both her coaches, Rippon and Arutyunyan fiercely defended Bell and said that there was no way she would have intentionally hurt another skater. Moreover, Bell denounced "hateful” and "disturbing" social media messages she was receiving. Despite the accident, she said she was looking forward to training for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Mariah Bell outside of the rink

Despite being a champion figure skater, Bell is a normal gal. According to her website, she lives in Irvine, California and enjoys spending time at home. She has a number of pets, including bunnies and a dog. When she's not skating, she can be found hanging out with family and friends. Her other hobbies include paddle boarding and spending time at the beach (via U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone). Bell also told NBC Sports that she knows how to ride a unicycle. In 2020, she opened up about her relationship to Romain Ponsart, a French figure skater whom she met at a Colorado Springs ice rink.

U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone reports that she "never thought" she would date a fellow skater. Bell referred to him as her "soulmate" and said that they spent much of their early relationship communicating through Google Translate. Bell and Ponsart would eventually become engaged (via NBC Sports). However, when he returned to France to renew his visa, the pandemic hit and he was not allowed to return to the states.

Ponsart would end their engagement in the summer of 2021, which she called "heartbreaking" and "shocking." Nonetheless, Bell made it to the Olympics in February 2022 and is booked and busier than ever. Per her season schedule, she will be at the World Figure Skating Championships in March and on the "Stars on Ice" tour in April and May.