When first she took up Nordic skiing, Becca Bell immediately headed for the woods.
In order to hide.
As a sixth- and seventh-grader in Yarmouth, Bell fancied herself an Alpine skier. She liked going fast. She liked zipping through gates. The prospect of skiing across fields and up hills seemed boring. At least that was the prevailing sentiment.
“It’s sort of instilled in the Alpine skiers that you have to not really enjoy Nordic,” Bell said with a laugh as she reflected on her introduction to the sport at Harrison Middle School, which requires all those who ski to embrace both disciplines.
Yarmouth High doesn’t make that same requirement, but by the time Bell reached the ninth grade, she already was hooked on Nordic.
“After the state meet in eighth grade,” Bell said, “I think I came in third in both (disciplines) and I realized if I dedicated myself to both that it could work out in high school as well. I really started to enjoy it. It was fun.”
A four-time Western Maine Conference skimeister, Bell successfully defended her Class B skimeister title this winter. Not only did she win the four-event competition, she also placed among the top 10 in all four events — slalom, giant slalom, freestyle and classic.
She is our choice for Maine Sunday Telegram girls’ skiing MVP.
“I’d call her the ultimate Skimeister,” said Yarmouth Nordic Coach Bob Morse. “She really disciplined herself and dedicated herself to all four events. She feels just as much part of the Alpine squad as she does the Nordic. There’s no leaning to one side or the other.”
At the state championships, Bell placed seventh in giant slalom and fourth in slalom. In the Nordic events, she was 10th in freestyle and fourth in classic — the first Yarmouth finisher both times.
Not coincidentally, Yarmouth has won the overall team title in Class B throughout Bell’s career. She placed among Yarmouth’s top four in all four events as a junior and senior, and in three of four events as a freshman and sophomore, the result of falls both years in giant slalom.
“She’s very athletic,” said Yarmouth Alpine Coach Bob Grout. “She’s one of the most coordinated athletes you’ll ever meet. She has had more Nordic training, but her heart’s just so big, she has excelled at Alpine as well.”
Bell learned to ski at the age of 2 at a small mountain in upstate New York. Her grandmother taught her. She has two older brothers who played soccer and lacrosse, with a little bit of hockey and skiing thrown in. Bell joined the middle school ski team in part because it was one of the few team sports opportunities available to sixth graders.
“I jumped at it,” said Bell, who also excels at soccer and lacrosse and is a captain in both, as she was in skiing.
Bell said her favorite sport is whatever is in season. Similarly, her favorite skiing event depends on which boots she’s wearing when asked. Placing fourth among nearly 200 girls at the Sassi Memorial 5K Classic at the end of January, however, may have tilted her balance toward Nordic, a sport she hopes to continue at Williams College.
Ranked among the top 10 percent of her class academically, Bell is considering a pre-med major with an eye toward a career as a doctor.
“My role model in the medical field is a close family friend who works in the (emergency room) at the Children’s Hospital in Boston,” she said. “So that’s something I aspire to do.”
No one doubts her dedication or determination.
“She has incredible drive,” said Grout, her Alpine coach. “Becca Bell is going to succeed at whatever she sets her sights on.”
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: