When Tory Nyhaug woke up on the morning of the BMX competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games, he wasn’t sure how he’d finish. Eight months earlier, the Coquitlam, B.C., native had Humpty Dumpty’d his foot to the point it took six screws to put it back together again. Still, Nyhaug had high hopes.
“I was really confident that I was going to be able to give everything I had,” Nyhaug says of his attitude that Saturday morning. “I knew if I did that I was going to have a good shot at winning.”
That night he went to bed having earned a gold medal on Canadian soil.
Nyhaug carried that momentum into 2016, winning three straight World Cup time trials events. And though a crash took him out of the running at the World Championship in May, he remains Canada’s best shot at a first-ever Olympic medal in BMX.
In March, he had the opportunity to spend a week on the Rio course. Here, he breaks down its ins and outs:
“I think it’s got a bit of everything. There are some fairly basic parts but there’re also some technical parts, and it’s really fast. The track is extremely fast, probably one of the fastest ones in the world. So sometimes you’ve got to go all out and there are other times when you’ve got to be pretty finessed.
“It’s a fairly easy track to make it around, but difficult to do really well. There are a couple different jumps that are pretty steep, and also the turns are flat. So holding your speed through the turns without sliding out is going to be difficult and you’re going to have to really accelerate out of the corners. It’s going to take a lot of skill to get through the corners really smoothly.”
The BMX competition begins Aug. 17