Ellicottville native dreams of Olympic glory
ARTICLE | | BY CAITLIN CROFT
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Everyone knows how amazing, rad, and fun Holiday Valley is. But not many hear about the elite athletes it produces. I recently caught up with 14-year-old Bella Bacon, resident shredder. Bella grew up here in Ellicottville, learning to ski at Holiday Valley. Both her parents, William and Christine, were instructors at Jackson Hole, Wyoming back in the day; you could say they were “ski school sweethearts.” After deciding it was time to start a family, the winter sport fanatics moved to Christine’s hometown, Ellicottville.
From an early age in Holiday Valley’s Rangers Program, Bella’s first instructor Patty Wolf saw potential. Bella was fearless and loved to ski in the woods and moguls. It wasn’t long before Bella joined the Holiday Valley Freestyle Team. Although she excelled at moguls, it was her growing interest in slopestyle that turned her focus.
Slopestyle – a mixture of rails, jumps and other terrain park features – became an official Olympic event in both skiing and snowboarding platforms at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Slopestyle tricks fall into four main categories: spins, grinds, grabs and flips. Demonstrating style while skiing provides the base component of the judging criteria, hence the term “slope-style”.
When it comes to style, Bella has it dialed.
Right now, Bella’s favorite trick to pull is a back flip. She recently qualified to attempt this trick at Maximise in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, where they use Japanese technology which provides the same feel as snow, and the air bag allows for little impact when trying out new tricks. Bella’s success in landing this trick follows up last year’s pivotal endorsement on the ski scene. Bella was the recipient of the 6th Annual ‘Spirit of Sarah Scholarship’, which earned her a spot at a freestyle camp held in British Columbia, Canada last June. It was while at this camp that she made a connection with agenda freeski, who’s team trains out of Mount St Louis in Coldwater, Ontario. Fast forward to this season, Bella is reaping the benefits of high-end training on weekends, year round. (But you can find her in the parks at Holiday Valley almost everyday after school.) “I love teaching my friends things and just being out there having fun.”
The first competition of this ski season for Bella was held at Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire; Bella found herself on the podium in 3rd. The event was a qualifier for ‘The Revolution Tour’ (known as ‘The Rev Tour’). This will take Bella back to Waterville Valley for extended competition, along with stops in Park City, UT and Mammoth Mountain, CA. Another stop on Bella’s competition schedule for this season is the ‘Sending it for Sarah’ event at Blue Mountain. The event is held in memory of Sarah Burke, a pioneer in the freestyle community.
CAITLIN: What gear are you rocking this season?
BELLA: The City Garage has outfitted me with Full Tilt boots, Line skis, and Pret helmet.
CAITLIN: Where do you hope to go in your ski career?
BELLA: I have dreams of the 2022 Olympics. Every time an Olympic commercial comes on I get goosebumps. From the age of 9 I have been telling everyone I want to go to the Olympics one day. Hopefully I will qualify for the X-Games in a couple of years.
CAITLIN: Who will you be cheering for in this Olympics?
BELLA: Dara Howell (who was one of Bella’s coaches at the camp in BC) and Nikki Blackall.
CAITLIN: What do you want to be when you grow up?
BELLA: A Physical Therapist or some career in Health & Wellness. I would also love to coach one day and pass on my love of this growing sport.
CAITLIN: What is your favorite food?
CAITLIN: Favorite color?
CAITLIN: If you had one superpower, what would it be?
BELLA: Mind reader
CAITLIN: Any animals at home?
BELLA: We have two dogs and a cat. Our newest dog we got last fall is a Corgi.
CAITLIN: What is one of your favorite things to do?
BELLA: Teach my friends new tricks after school, play soccer and skateboard.