Olympics 2014 reminds us that the Slovenian womens’ cross-country ski team came to Princeton to train in preparation for the 2010 Olympics. That was a time of real excitement as we prepared to meet these Olympic athletes. The team of five women with their coach, Marko Gracer, and support crew came to Nat Brown’s ranch near Princeton where they were well hosted by Nat, friends & the China Ridge Crosscountry Ski Club.
Three of those five women are part of the Slovenian 2014 Olympic team which has competed in many events. Several competed in the Women’s Cross-country sprint, showed well and Vesna Fabjan took the bronze medal for Slovenia. In the 30k cross-county mass start Barbara Jezersek completed 31st in a field of about 60. Both these ladies had been to Princeton for the 2010 training.
Other medals were: bronze for Teja Gregorin in Biathlon, gold for Tina Maze in both Alpine Downhill and Giant Slolam, bronze for Zan Kosir in Giant Slolam, silver for Peter Prevc in Ski Jump and the team took bronze in Snowboard. Not to be forgotten was the amazing showing of the men’s hockey team which won two very exciting games instead of just making an appearance. Not bad for a country of just 2,000,000 that only has eight indoor and two outdoor rinks and less than 1000 men hockey players.
A sterling and defining moment of true olympic sportsmanship happened during an early men’s cross-country race. A Russian competitor’s ski delaminated during the race and as he stumbled, a coach for the Canadian cross-country ski team jumped onto the course and fitted him with a ski to enable the Russian to complete the race. This coach is Justin Wadsworth, originally from Washington State, who as a young man in his cross-county ski career, along with many others, had trained under Nat Brown. Justin did well in his ski career but truely excelled when he married Canadian Olympian, Becky Scott.
An excellent cross-country skiing display in the local Sunflower Art Gallery not only shows Princeton’s history but displays the racing bibs of the Slovenian women’s team with photos and information about their time spent in Princeton.
This Slovenian experience may soon become new history as the hub for this connection. Nat Brown’s ranch which was an excellent cross-country training training centre for over 25 years for athletes from many countries, is now for sale.
Many Princeton folks had the pleasure and privilege of the experience with Nat Brown and those wonderful Slovenian skiers.
May your skis embrace the snow as your head reaches for the sky.
~ Courtesy of Ernie Lawrence