For five years as the wax technician for the U.S. Nordic Ski Team, Nat Brown devoted his waking hours to making skinny skis glide as fast as possible over the snow.
“I’m a tech weenie,” said Brown, who lives in Edmonds, Wash. “My life has been immersed in the science of waxing and prepping skis.”
For the past two years, he’s helped coach the nordic team from the emerging country of Slovenia.
But when he’s in Washington, Brown frequently drives to meet with the eight teenagers of the Inland Empire Nordic Club’s junior racing team.
“I know Nat’s tired of the politics of national and international ski racing,” said Jon Quinn-Hurst, Spokane junior team coach. “Working with juniors is a balance for him. It gives him a chance to be with people who just love the sport.”
“Working with kids is refreshing,” Brown said. “Kids have the same will that got me interested in the Slovenes.”
People of Slovenia don’t take a high-tech approach to skiing, he said.
“Slovenes are farming people. Skiing is part of their life, but not a lifestyle. They don’t have tomorrow’s equipment and they’re not at all envious of those who do. But they can really roll their eyes back and work hard.
“Americans are always looking for the magic bullet that will make them something they aren’t.
“These kids from Spokane are just like the Slovene team, only smaller.”
When skiing the narrow ski trails of Slovenia, Brown said he noticed that kids don’t laugh and jeer when one of their friends wipes out.
“They all stop to make sure the kid is all right,” he said.
“And in races, when the men finish, they all go back to the course to cheer on the women and kids. You don’t see that much in the United States.”