Halleluiah Mariah Bell
Each January brings the excitement of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. I’ve been watching since Peggy Fleming won in 1968. I love the sport and have closely observed its growth in artistry and technique.
This year's national was particularly poignant. Competing in her ninth championship was Mariah Bell. I’ve been watching her skate since she was a bubbly little girl training at the Promenade in Westminster, CO. Mariah and my daughter, Madeline, had the same coach. They worked on the same spins, graduated from the same high school. They even had lockers next to each other.
Any skater’s mother who has sat in the stands watching practice has wondered if her child is the one. Or if another child on the ice is the one. We all watched Mariah. Jumps seemed to come so easily to her. She had that extra sparkle. And each year she went to nationals, I wondered if it was her year.
I was surprised to learn she was 25. She still seemed so young. Except to reach her level of maturity and grace on the ice takes a long time. The beautiful entry into her jumps and the continual motion on the ice requires tenure in the field.
This was the year I hoped it was Mariah’s turn to stand at the top of the podium. When she won the short program, I was so proud and immediately thought how happy her mother must be. I notified everyone I knew and even got new neighbors to watch her compete for the title. I wanted boatloads of positive energy going her way. I loved the program she choose to skate, “Halleluiah” sung by KD Lang. Such an emotional song and she gave it everything she had.
I was concerned when she didn’t land her triple triple (It is crazy the level of jumps a senior lady must have these days.). But everything else in her program was beautifully executed. When she got near the end there was joy on her face as she performed a classic spiral. And as she spun at the end of the program with the crowd rising to their feet, I knew they had declared her a champion, a woman with the skills and personality to represent our country. Not only had Mariah, at 25, won her first championship, but she would also be going to the Beijing Olympics.
The true message that Mariah delivered was that you are never too old to chase a dream and that you should never give up because it’s there for the taking if you truly want it. I recently turned 60 and am wondering if I should continue chasing my dream of being a published author. Even as I write this blog, I am meeting with people to get their advice and looking for someone to coach me through the process. Mariah has set a new standard. We can always grow into the best version of ourselves. Hallelujah.