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Meet “The Trio”: Mariah Bell, Nathan Chen and Romain Ponsart Find Family in Figure Skating - U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone
After failing to make the 2014 Olympic Team and having ankle surgery, French figure skater Romain Ponsart flew to Colorado in the fall of 2015 at the behest of a French coach who urged him to see if a new training environment would help him return to his previous level. Ponsart was set on...
Chen and Ponsart met through a mutual friend and they started hanging out off the ice. Before long, Chen moved into an apartment that was a two-minute walk from Ponsart and Bell's and spent most of his time at their apartment.
"Romain is one of the nicest guys ever, and he really made me feel at home," Chen said. "He's someone I can trust with everything, who I know is always there if I need him – to the extent I'm almost calling him family."
"I respect him a lot because he's so humble and also he has so much respect for everybody," Ponsart said of Chen. "He's someone who can have fun but when something is serious, he's going to help you, he's going to do it."
After communicating largely through Google Translate at the start of their relationship, Bell helped Ponsart learn English. He is now fluent; meanwhile, Bell admitted that her French still needs a lot of work.
"Actually, I had to improve my English a lot because of Nathan," Ponsart said. "He's speaking so fast and I don't know how to explain it in English but a little bit with a low voice and cutting some words. I remember when I met Nathan, I was saying to Mariah, 'I don't know what he is saying!'"
The trio has not been together in a year. Ponsart went to France late in 2019 to renew his visa. He last saw Chen in Italy for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and Bell in Switzerland with her family in December. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which meant his appointment at the embassy continues to get pushed back and so does his timeline for leaving France.
Ponsart currently lives and trains in a remote town [Vaujany] where he is only allowed to leave his apartment to skate. In the meantime, the trio does group video chats nearly every day.