Elk Rapids Man Headed to the Olympics
TRAVERSE CITY – With the 2018 Winter Olympics approaching, athletes and coaches across the U.S. are preparing, including a northern Michigan man.
Eli Brown, who resides in Elk Rapids, will be making the trip to Pyeongchang, South Korea, as a member of the USA Cross Country Ski Team staff. According to Brown, the team members and staff have become more like family.
“These teams and these athletes are kind of like a second family to me, I’ve been traveling around with them for quite some time now. Also, some of the athletes are good friend with some of my children,” he said. “For me, it’s always been a dream to be a part of the Olympics. I’ve never been there, only as a spectator, so to be there, not as an athlete role, but in a helping role, means a lot to me for my career, but also more importantly to my children to teach them about striving for excellence and inspire them as well.”
Brown waxes skis for the Olympians and helps them choose which set to use on race day.
“The technology is always changing and these athletes are always getting new skis, it really is particular with different snow conditions, it’s a lot of work and you try to take as much guess work out of as possible,” Brown said.
Taking the pressure off of the athletes is also one of his most important tasks.
“Each of these athletes almost have 50 pairs of skis themselves. So, to take the stress off of them and help them, make sure they have the fastest pair on race day and them prepare them as fast as possible, just so it’s about the athlete and not about the gear so the they can have the best performance possible is what the goal is,” Brown said.
Brown graduated from Northern Michigan University where he was on the Nordic ski team. He also was the director of skiing at the University of Utah before he and his family relocated to Michigan a few years back. According to Brown, the climate in Michigan is ideal for cross country skiing.
“Seven years ago my family moved from Utah and part of the reason is we liked the skiing here better. You don’t hear people say that much, but if you’re a cross country skier, this is paradise. There’s always lake effect snow, tons of trails, and it’s just a beautiful place to be out in nature.”
For Brown, going to the Olympics is a dream come true, but he didn’t get there overnight.
“Just the patience and sticking with it and … dreaming big,” he said. “I’m just trying to prepare my best, to make sure that they can be their best, and hopefully be there for those exciting moments.”