The Truth About U.S. Figure Skater Mariah Bell

In case you haven't heard, figure skater Mariah Bell is going to take on the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. After years of competing, this is huge news for her and all her fans. Bell began skating at the mere age of 3 and has since been fighting for her chance to compete at the Olympic level.

While arguably all athletes (especially of this caliber) should be noted for their determination, there is something special to be said about Bell's resilience and persistence. With the support of her family and her unwavering perseverance, she has overcome obstacles like the coronavirus pandemic, for example, that led to "several months" off the ice, according to NBC Olympics. Now she's set to make it to the Olympics. Get it, girl!

Even if you're a major fan of Mariah Bell, there are bound to be some facts you don't know about her. From intimate details about her personal life to career setbacks, here's the truth about the U.S. figure skater.

Her sister is also a professional ice skater

According to NBC Olympics, Mariah Bell is one of Kendra and Andrew Bell's two daughters. Her older sister, Morgan Bell, used to compete in skating competitions as well and even made a career out of ice skating herself. Morgan, however, went another way with it. Rather than competing to become a figure skating Olympian, she took a more creative approach and went on to perform in shows on the ice. Of her sister, Mariah shared, "She used to figure skate at a high level as well and now travels with Disney On Ice as a principal skater."  As seen on Morgan's Instagram account, her work with Disney on Ice included playing the character Anna in their "Frozen" production. 

Notably, according to her Instagram page, Morgan is also a huge supporter of her little sister, and, as of late 2021, Morgan is living as a "dog mom" and working as an ice-skating coach.

She is close with her family

Likely, getting as far as Mariah Bell has gotten in the figure skating world doesn't come without a lot of familial support, but that doesn't always make a family close. In Bell's case, however, it seems that it has. While the Bell sisters may not see their parents as much as they'd like considering that following their skating dreams has taken them all around North America (and, in Mariah's case — around the world and all the way to Beijing pretty soon), they still remain a close-knit family. So close, in fact, that they all four quarantined in their parent's RV to spend time together during the coronavirus pandemic. According to NBC Sports, Bell's parents, Kendra and Andrew Bell, purchased an RV in 2018 after they sold their home in Colorado. Now the couple can follow their daughters wherever they may be.

During the spring of 2020, that was Palm Springs, California where all four family members (plus Mariah's bunny, Gizmo, of course) lived in the RV together for several weeks. Far from experiencing the expected tension of being cooped up in an RV during a worldwide pandemic, she said, "We haven't been able to spend this much time together in several years, so it's been nice. Maybe that's the silver lining for everyone. If they are lucky enough, they can spend this time with their family."

She's an animal person

Mariah Bell is such an animal person that she even brought her pet bunny, Gizmo, with her to live with the family in her parent's RV while they were sheltering in place during the pandemic (via NBC Sports). And she also has a pet rabbit named Turbo, whom she got in 2020 and was formally known as Peaches before discovering that the "she was a he." For Halloween 2020, she dressed up little Gizmo and Turbo in adorable costumes, as seen on her Instagram account, outfitting Gizmo as a super "manly" Batman and Turbo as a big hot dog with sequined mustard.

But Gizmo and Turbo aren't the only furry friends she has. She is also low-key obsessed with her pet German Shepherd, Nala. And who can blame her? The dog is so cute! "She had me at woof," Bell wrote in the caption of a photo of Nala on Instagram. Bell's Instagram account also notes her love for her parents' dog, Ryder (a German shepherd mix). In one Instagram post from 2021, she said Ryder had "finally gave in" to her "forced hugs." Puppies and bunnies — what a wonderful combination. 

She dated fellow figure skater Romain Ponsart for a while

According to WNYT, Mariah Bell had been dating fellow figure skater Romain Ponsart since at least 2017, and according to NBC Sports, the couple was still together during the pandemic, although they were apart as Ponsart was back in his home country of France while Bell was quarantining with her family back in the States. In Bell's interview for WNYT in 2017, she noted how Ponsart had helped her in her career. She shared, "He trains with me every day and always pushes and motivates me to be better. Since he skates also he can understand me so well because he is doing the same thing as me every day." 

According to The New York Times, Bell and Ponsart became engaged at some point, but Ponsart broke off their engagement in 2021. While the breakup was painful, she shared that it ultimately helped her focus on preparing for the Beijing Olympics.

She was accused of intentionally hurting another skater

In 2019, Mariah Bell was accused of cutting fellow skater Lim Eun-soo's leg with her skate during their mutual time on the ice practicing. However, according to Today, the International Skating Union rejected the allegations on the grounds that there was no evidence that Bell had intentionally tried to hurt Eun-soo. According to the New York Post, Bell's then-boyfriend, Romain Ponsart, took to Instagram to defend his girlfriend in a since-removed post saying that he "[couldn't] believe a skater try to destroy a competitor by saying such lies ... but perfect timing to do that between short and long at world championships."

Other skaters came to defend her via social media as well. In a tweet, Adam Rippon urged everyone to "stop ... spreading rumors," explaining, "What happened in the [warm-up] was an accident. Don't distract both [Eun-soo] and Mariah from the competition."

Bell finally broke her silence on an Instagram post, saying, "As I told [Eun-soo] in Japan, the incident at practice was very unfortunate and I meant absolutely no harm."

She's considered old in her sport

Mariah Bell was born on April 18, 1996, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which means that she was 25 years old when she became national champion in January of 2022. In the real world, 25 isn't old — not even a little bit — but in the figure skating world, it kind of is. According to CNN, Bell's age makes her the "oldest U.S. women's figure skating national champion in 95 years."

According to The Washington Post, Bell shared in a press conference, "It's really exciting to be a little bit older, I guess and showing that you can do it at a young age and an older age. I'm 25 so I'm not ancient. But in skating it is."

She also noted that her age definitely gives her an advantage, given her experience, but that she doesn't "think it's gotten any easier or harder." She said, "I just understand my body better."

It took her nine attempts to make it this far

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariah Bell finally won her place on the Olympic team with 216.25 points during her ninth attempt at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. Her runner-up, Karen Chen, received 213.85 points.

At the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in early 2022, Bell said she was "honored" to be at the event, as Sports Illustrated reported, going on to comment, "I was really nervous for this program and just tried my best to stay in the moment, grab every point, and the audience is so amazing and I'm just so honored and grateful."

According to NBC Sports, people thought Bell might make the Olympic team in 2018, but she only finished fifth at the national competition then (so close!). But despite the fact that the majority of athletes may have retired after such a blow, Bell kept going. We admire her persistence and wish her the best of luck in Beijing in 2022!