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Steveston teen cyclist crowned national esport champion

Training on virtual cycling platform pivotal during COVID-19 pandemic, says Ryan Nickerson.
Steveston's Ryan Nickerson clinched his first national title at the 2024 Canadian Esports Championships.

A 16-year-old competitive road cyclist from Steveston recently won his first national title in a recent esports championship.

Former Fusion FC and Kajaks athlete Ryan Nickerson won gold in the U17 Men's category in the 2024 Canadian Esports Championships held from Feb. 10 to 11.

Hosted by Cycling Canada, the races took place on the Zwift virtual cycling platform and featured athletes across Canada competing in seven age categories.

"The most memorable moment from the race was having my dad at my side supporting me through the final sprint," Nickerson told the Richmond News.

He added he is always working toward winning a title.

Nickerson began using Zwift in 2019 and credits the platform as "pivotal" for his decision to pursue competitive road cycling.

"During the first six months of the (COVID-19) pandemic, when in-person athletic opportunities were limited, Zwift allowed me to train, race and connect with a community of riders from around the world," he explained.

This led to his decision to join Escape Velocity's Developmental Escape Velocity Organization (DEVO) Youth program, Vancouver's oldest youth cycling program, and to pursue the sport.

Nickerson won gold in last year's Gastown Grand Prix youth race, and he's currently preparing for the Thunderbird Road Race on March 3.

"To prepare for the first outdoor race of the season, I have been training on Zwift and riding outdoors as much as possible," he said. 

"I feel lucky to have access to some incredible training routes, from Richmond to the Fraser Valley, all the way up to Whistler."

With files from Valerie Leung