Former AVSC skier Bella Wright moves up to national B team for the Olympic season

U.S. ski team member Isabella Wright. Photo by Max Hall/U.S. Ski Team.

Utah’s Isabella Wright is set to return to the U.S. ski team for her second season, and Aspen played a big part in getting her there in the first place.

The Salt Lake City ski racer, who usually goes by “Bella,” is among the rising names to keep an eye on as athletes vie for those coveted Olympic team spots entering the 2021-22 season.

“I love Aspen and I loved my time with the team there,” Wright said earlier this spring. “I still stay in touch with a lot of the coaches and I do think the environment and everything that was presented in front of me in Aspen helped prepare me for that next step.”

Earlier this month, Wright was nominated for the women’s B team, a step up from the development team she was part of this past season. The 24-year-old was a consistent presence on the World Cup circuit throughout the 2020-21 campaign, finishing in the points (top 30) on numerous occasions.

“It’s pretty surreal. It’s something I still have to remind myself that it happened,” Wright said. “And being over in Europe with COVID, away from family for over three months, that was definitely hard and something I haven’t done before. But it was such an amazing experience to be over there.”

Wright’s World Cup debut came in a December 2019 downhill in Lake Louise, Canada, finishing 46th. She improved by 10 spots in her second downhill only a day later, the second of five World Cup downhills she would start that season when she was only an invitee to the national team and not yet an official U.S. athlete.

Her first top-30 finish on the World Cup came Jan. 9 in St. Anton, Austria, where she placed 27th in a downhill. The very next day, she placed 24th in the St. Anton super-G. Beginning with that first downhill, Wright would score World Cup points eight times in a nine-race stretch, and she finished 31st in the other.

Wright also made the U.S. world championships team this past winter, where she finished 22nd in super-G, 21st in downhill and 14th in alpine combined back in February in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

“It was a great experience,” Wright said of her season. “Having every venue this past season be brand new to me and every course was something I’ve only ever seen on TV, it was something really exciting and I think I’ll miss it for sure. I’ll miss being pretty surprised by everything, but it will be nice to know it a little bit more going into next season.”

Among Wright’s stops prior to being named to the national team was a two-year stint as a post graduate with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. She spent the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with AVSC and considers Aspen her “second home.”

While with AVSC, Wright was named to the 2018 junior world championships team and competed in Davos, Switzerland, as did local skier Elle Murphy.

“Aspen always had great speed training, which was something I was always trying to pursue, and obviously great tech training,” Wright said. “So it was a perfect program for me, especially at that time.”

Wright tore her ACL in March 2016, a significant setback at that point in her young career. She called her first season in Aspen her “comeback year” and really flourished, leading up to her invitee status with the U.S. national team.

She had played around with the idea of competing in college, but had her heart set on speed racing, especially in super-G, and chose to go “against the grain,” as she said, in pursuit of her personal goals.

“I worked my whole life for it and I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers,” Wright said of what motivated her to keep chasing her dreams. “My first year in Aspen was my comeback year. That was really a lot of building confidence and I took it a lot slower. I had a great coaching staff behind me with Austin Nevins, Torey Greenwood, Casey Puckett, Johno McBride. I had so many people behind me. It was a great building year.

“And then going into my second year with AVSC, I started to really build my momentum back up again after my injury. It really felt like I was skiing like myself again.”