32 » OpenRoad Driver CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT Competitive Edge TORY NYHAUG Words by Roslyne Buchanan Photos by Ellen Ho » Tory Nyhaug doesn’t shy away from breaking boundaries. He debuted at the London 2012 Olympics as Canada’s lone BMX racer at age 20. For that matter, breaking bones doesn’t seem to hold him back. Eleven weeks prior to his London Olympic debut, he ruptured his spleen for the second time and only one week after surgery to remove it, he was training again. Nyhaug’s biography on the Canadian Olympic website outlines his “breakthrough in 2013 when he reached his first World Cup podiums… and advanced to the world championship final.” In 2014, he won silver in the world championship. The biography notes his broken bones – an estimated 15 to 20 in his young life – which included breaking both arms as a 14-year old. It was just seven weeks later, he returned to racing. Spring forward to November 2014, when he broke his left foot and had six screws implanted in surgery. After a three-month stint on crutches and rehabilitation, he was back on the track in April. His determination delivered a gold medal at home in Canada at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Nyhaug launched his 2016 season with three straight time trial wins at the first three World Cup events. He went on to the Olympics in Rio where he became the first Canadian male BMX rider to advance to the final. He finished fifth overall in a Canadian best-ever performance. Nyhaug shrugs off his broken bones and injuries as an occupational byproduct. He hails from Coquitlam, BC although while we talk, he’s training in the San Diego area. He exudes personal fortitude beyond his years, quickly giving credit to others for helping him succeed, including his parents Greg Nyhaug and Margit Heinonen, and sister Layne. Even his motto, “No time is better than a slow time,” is attributed to something his father said while encouraging him to give his all. Nyhaug explains, “As a sport, BMX goes quickly. You have to go fast with no fear and a lot of focus.” As for getting into the sport, he could ride a two-wheel bicycle at age two-and-a-half, and attributes taking up BMX at age four to his uncle who took him to a local track. An athletic kid from an athletic family who already loved bike riding, he was hooked from that moment. “My sister Layne was a great BMX rider. She’s a teacher now, and plays hockey and softball. Dad is a bike rider and hockey player, and Mom plays softball,” he points out. “They’re all pretty fit and support me in my training.” Nyhaug also acknowledges his competitors as part of his support system. When he was nine or ten, he met American BMX racer Connor Fields of Las Vegas, Nevada, and they immediately struck up an enduring friendship. As training partners, they share coach PH Sauze, for whom Nyhaug shows tremendous appreciation. Nyhaug has achieved so much already going fast and flying high on his BMX bike while remaining so grounded. I could be talking to one of my own nephews given the ease of our chat. He exemplifies those cliché Canadian traits of politeness and approachability while projecting a pure joy in his vocation.