Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and sports were either sidelined or played with little to no fans in attendance, I've often thought about what it'll be like when we can pack bleachers and stadiums again. There's something magical about hundreds or thousands of people sharing a moment together in sports, a feeling that's captured perfectly in this breathtaking free skate by Mariah Bell, which she performed at the 2020 US Figure Skating Championships in January, just a couple months before the country went into lockdown.
Bell may be unfamiliar to those who don't follow the sport closely, but as the commentators explained at the time, she's a beautiful skater who had simply been waiting for that "one big night" when everything would fall into place. "Mariah Bell is a skater that you can't not enjoy. Her lines are spectacular, the height of her jumps is gorgeous, and her fight is so wonderful," Johnny Weir said as the two-time US bronze medalist began her routine, which was choreographed to "Hallelujah" by K.D. Lang.
And fight she did, landing every single jump with the kind of ease athletes can only hope to achieve. By the time her feet touched the ice after the final triple lutz, Bell was flush with emotion. The crowd was on its feet before the program even ended. And though Bell's score wasn't enough to put her atop the podium, it earned her a career-best second-place finish behind Alysa Liu, the first American woman to land a quadruple lutz in competition.
"I have goosebumps," Tara Lipinski said. Months later, I can still confidently say that I do too.