Nate Nichols of Concord: Boys’ Nordic athlete of the season

  • Nate Nichols has emerged as one of the top skiers in New England. JONATHAN VAN FLEET / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/20/2018 11:10:25 PM

Nate Nichols returned from his warm-up late and had to make a split-second decision: Cut his losses and take it easy or blaze down the freestyle course at the Division I championships as fast as he could.

For those who know Nichols best, the former was never even an option.

“I think it’s pretty easy to say to yourself, ‘Oh man, I almost missed my start, I’m not in my race skis and this result doesn’t matter,’ ” Concord Nordic ski coach Sam Evans-Brown said. “But Nate is never going to throw in the towel. That’s just the kind of athlete he is.”

With extra gear on and his feet planted firmly in the wrong skis, Nichols shrugged it all off.

The senior raced to a third-place finish in the freestyle event, finishing in 11 minutes, 24 seconds and absolutely crushed the competition in the classic race, beating the rest of the field by 40 seconds at 10:53.6.

“He’s just tough as nails,” Evans-Brown said. “When I saw him finish that (freestyle) race and he’s wearing too many clothes, he’s racing on slow skis and he comes across the line, it was like one of those things you see in the Olympics where they collapse across the finish line and dive into the snow. It takes a big effort to feel like you actually need to fall down and lay on the ground.”

Nichols’ performance at the D-I championships, which the Concord boys’ team won for the 10th straight season, qualified him for the Meet of Champions in both events.

But with eyes on a bigger prize, Nichols opted to skip the MOCs and turn his attention toward the New England Nordic Ski Association Eastern High School Championships at Black Mountain Ski Resort from March 16-18.

Racing against the elite skiers in New England, Nichols was the top male finisher from New Hampshire in all three of his events. Nichols placed 12th out of 119 skiers in the 7.5K classic with a time of 20:34.7, took 18th in the 1.2k free technique sprint (2:42.31) and notched a 22nd-place finish in the 5k free technique race.

“He told me after the Coaches Series races were done that he wanted to focus on the 7.5K classic race,” Evans-Brown said. “He’s just a good example of a kid who sets a goal, works toward it and does what he needs to do to make it happen.

“We’re nowhere near seeing what Nate’s potential is.”

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