Disbelief. Gratitude. Trust.
When speaking with rising speed skier Bella Wright, these might be the three most common words she used to describe her career to this point. The 24-year-old U.S. Ski Team member approached the world championships with jitters and excitement as one of her biggest career goals was coming to fruition. Now, as a top-15 finisher at world champs and having scored in 11 World Cup races, Wright looks ahead to the remainder of the season with one focus — to trust herself.
Wright is in a unique position chasing the “speed dream,” as she likes to call it. After learning to ski at the age of three, it was only a few years later when she found the love of speed and racing at Snowbird Ski Education Foundation. Fast forward 20 years and Wright has embraced the resiliency in herself to move up the ranks as an independent NorAm competitor and now first-year U.S. Ski Team member, scoring World Cup points in three events.
As an independent athlete on the NorAm circuit last season, Wright began to surprise herself as to the level of competition she could handle. Her gratitude to ski alongside the U.S. Ski Team as an invitee motivated her to trust in the technique and tactics she had been tirelessly working on years prior. She knew putting the puzzle pieces together last season to win the NorAm super G title would be the ticket she needed to make it to the World Cup full time. And it was.
“Last year was really about finding my self confidence and trusting in my ability,” said Wright. “I was just trying to improve my skiing and better myself to get on the World Cup, and ultimately go for a NorAm title so I could be here full time this year. When I got the call that I made the U.S. Ski Team, I was really excited to just keep learning and growing into this season.”
A new member to the team, Wright was elated to have the preseason program, coaches, and teammates to get her stronger than ever, both physically on her skis and mentally for race day. Knowing that she was powerful on her skis, Wright honed in her focus and mental toughness. She learned to trust herself to execute the same level of skiing on race day as in training.
Wright’s first two races of the season were disappointing yet encouraging, falling just short of World Cup points in 35th and 33rd. She was confident in her ability to move into the top 30 and had to just ski, rather than think about it too closely. After scoring her first World Cup points in St. Anton in January, her fight was far from over. Now with the momentum and skiing consistently in the top 30, Wright is looking to make the next jump on the circuit.
“I think every race I am expecting a little more out of myself, which is maybe a little hard mentally, but I think my coaches and I know what I’m capable of,” said Wright. “I have been putting it in there consistently, now I just want to make that jump. I feel very happy and can’t believe it’s real sometimes. It’s just exciting to be a part of something that is so much bigger than myself.”
The world championships are a goal that has been on Wright’s list most of her career. Going into Cortina, she knew the race was a milestone in her career, and she was beyond excited ski the venue she has dreamed of since she was a young girl. She was hopeful to finally execute a super G run from top to bottom, a feat she found particularly difficult this season, in the event that is near and dear to her. Knowing that fear would limit her from skiing her best and enjoying the experience, Wright went back to the mentality of trusting herself to get the result she longed for. In her first World Championships, Wright executed just that, finishing 14th in the alpine combined event, her best World Cup finish yet.
“So much fun,” Wright said following her 14th place finish. “I love it here. I’m sad to be leaving after today, but some great memories here.”
For the remainder of her season, Wright has her objectives set on consistency, trust, and progression to get additional points and climb the ranks at the next races to qualify for World Cup Finals. She often finds herself in disbelief that her dreams have become reality. She doesn’t want the 20-21 season to come to an end. Ultimately, Wright knows her season is far from over and makes sure a smile is a part of her daily ritual, as well as an occasional FaceTime with her cats.