Heather Deacon of Concord: Girls’ Nordic athlete of the season

  • Junior Heather Deacon helped Concord to another Division I title. JONATHAN VAN FLEET / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/20/2018 11:09:25 PM

In the eyes of Concord Nordic coach Sam Evans-Brown, there are a few different tiers of high school skiers. There was no question where Tide junior Heather Deacon belonged.

“She had kind of a leg up on a lot of competition and it puts her into another tier,” Evans-Brown said. “If you look at high school ski races, there’s the kids who are doing it for the first time, the kids who are talented athletes and are learning and the kids who are talented athletes and know how to ski already. So she’s in that (last) tier and competing to win races.”

Winning is nothing new to Deacon, or to the Concord program, which completed a decade of dominance on March 5 with its 10th consecutive title during the Division I championships at Great Glen Trails.

The victory for the Concord girls’ team was also spearheaded by yet another stellar showing on the course for Deacon, who paced the Tide with a first-place overall finish in the classic race and a second-place showing in the freestyle.

Deacon joined four other teammates – Brenna McNamara, Katie Watt, Johanne Nichols and Sophie Johnson – in finishing inside the top 10 of the classic race and beat out Manchester Memorial’s Morgan Nault for the top spot with a time of 14 minutes, 27.5 seconds. In the freestyle, Nault got the best of Deacon for first, but the Concord product still brought in 99 points for the Tide, producing a second-place time of 12:09.3.

“Heather is just an enormously talented skier. She also has the benefit of having started early and gotten excited about racing at an early age,” Evans-Brown said. “She just has a great sense of what it takes on race day to do well. ... She’s out there and has her routine, she knows when to grab her skis and knows not to stand around too much. She’s what we’re trying to get all the skiers to do.”

Part of that is cross-country skiing is a year-round sport for Deacon.

In the summer she trains with the Gunstock Nordic Association – an intense program coached by Nina Gavrylyuk, who has 15 years of World Cup Circuit experience and three Olympic gold medals from her time with the Russian National Team.

It’s also the same program Evans-Brown was involved with while growing up in the Granite State, and he stressed the difference it can make.

“She got connected with the club and she trains with them during the summer, and sometimes will sneak up in the winter and on weekends and stuff. I can’t go anywhere near taking credit for coaching her,” Evans-Brown said. “One of the things (Deacon) struggled with is the pressure of racing, she puts a lot of pressure on herself … but this year I think she realized that racing should be fun. She got to a place where she just went hard and had fun and it actually helps rather than thinking too hard of what your results should be.”

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