Eli Brown continues to infuse a new attitude and further the rich tradition of the University of Utah ski team in his fifth year as director.
Since taking over as director at Utah, 11 athletes have earned All-America honors. Junior Eva Huckova is a four-time All-American. Two skiers have won national titles - Scott Veenis in 2006 and Snorri Einarsson in 2007. Tague Thorson, who finished the 2008 regular season as the top overall men's alpine qualifier, became one of just a handful of alpine skiers (men or women) to reach the U.S. Ski Team as a collegiate skier in the past 30 years. Chirine Njeim is competing for Lebanon in the 2010 Olympics.
In 2008 Brown led Utah to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships, its best finish since 2005.
Brown was recently named to the NCAA Men's and Women's Skiing Committee. His tenure runs through 2013. He also led the charge to construct a ski team building on campus to house equipment.
Browns coaching philosophy focuses on preparation.
"I believe that the preparation for ski racing that takes place off the snow is of the utmost importance. The crux of our plan is to first get in the best shape possible, then dial in technique, equipment and strategy.
"Our main goal is to be as prepared as possible for ski racing - this means a healthy course of an intense physical regimen and systematic preparation. I believe that college skiing here at Utah is a great stepping stone for athletes who look to continue racing at a high level after college. We have athletes on this team now who have a serious chance to compete on the national and international stages. Through the hard training and lofty NCAA goals, every day is a small step in the direction of creating future champions.
"By creating a strong team atmosphere and a solid work ethic focusing on preparation, getting back on top of the podium is surely in reach."
Brown grew up as a Nordic ski racer and runner in Minneapolis. His alma mater, South High, won the state cross-country running meet four years in a row. This experience had a lasting affect on Brown.
"Creating a team feeling in individual sports like running, or ski racing is unique and important," he said. "My experience as a runner on the South team shaped my life." Brown went on to become one of the top collegiate racers in the country at Northern Michigan University under coaches Sten Fjeldheim and Trond Nystad. After college skiing, Eli continued racing for a few years as a member of the US Development Team. His top national results included a 3rd, 5th, and 6th at the US National Championships.
In 1999 his coaching career began at Utah as assistant coach to former head coach Kevin Sweeney.
"Kevin taught me what coaching is all about," Brown said. "Believing in your athletes, working hard for them and holding them accountable."
From there, he went on to coach skiing, running, and track at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. After helping that program make the jump to NCAA competition, Brown moved to coach in northern Maine at the Maine Winter Sports Center. As the elite cross-country ski coach for the MWSC, Brown started one of the first post-collegiate programs in the country.
"Whitman was a challenge, we didn't really have a place to ski, but we made it work anyways," he said. "Maine was a unique experience, the money and support for the sport of skiing that has been infused into northern Maine is phenomenal."
In 2003, a job offer from Fischer Ski Company drew in Brown. He moved to New Hampshire and started what would become a two-year job in the ski industry. During his time at Fischer, he helped launch their new professional race team together with Swix. "My experience at Fischer was amazing," he said. "I learned a lot about the industry, technology, and service it takes to support athletes at the highest level."
Since 2005, Eli and his family have enjoyed living in Utah. The Browns live about a mile from campus in the Avenues. Eli lives with his wife Joann and their two young children, Sage, and Leland.