A Beautiful Ride

On Saturday evening, January 25, 2020, at the Track Cycling World Cup in Milton, Canada, Stefan was given a heart-felt honouring. The announcers welcomed Stefan onto the track to a standing ovation. He rode five laps around his national home track for the first time since the August 30, 2018 injury. As a friend joked later, “Stefan, that was your slowest kilo ever.” And in Stefan’s words, “It was great! I could’ve stayed out there for an hour!”

Thanks to Kris Westwood and ALL Cycling Canada staff who made this beautiful tribute ride possible. In the Canadian Cyclist article, it shares how behind the scenes the ride came to be. Basically Stefan was not expecting to ride the track. And before one knew it, all the pieces fell into place for it to happen. A very pleasant surprise indeed, along with getting a new track suit!

A Place of Possibility and Awesome Support!

For me as a Mom, it was great to see Stefan reunited with his former coach, teammates, and the tremendous Cycling Canada staff support team. As well as how the broader cycling community and many cycling families were all very excited to see Stefan at the track. Everyone’s support of Stefan in so many ways is really appreciated and warm’s the heart!

Reunited with coach Franck Durivaux
Photo Credit: Canadian Cyclist
Reunited with coach Franck Durivaux
Photo Credit: Canadian Cyclist

What is next for Stefan? While, the world is full of possibility. As one door closes another opens. On the Sunday, Stefan was able to shadow a photographer and get a feel of what life is like on the other side of the camera lens. Check out his photos from the Milton World Cup.

 

Thanks again to ALL for your ongoing support!

Photo Credit: Canadian Cyclist

posted by Barbara Ritter

My Track Cycling Career

photo credit: Cycling Canada Instagram Story

It has been over a year now since my crash on August 30, 2018. The road to recovery from a severe traumatic brain injury is long and challenging. Although my recovery is going incredibly well, I still have the final portions of it ahead of me. With that being said, it is with a very heavy heart that I am officially resigning from racing with the Canadian National Track Cycling Team.

The reason for my decision to leave racing, is a matter of my long term health. I want to live a long and healthy life, and racing poses an immeasurable risk, a risk I simply can’t afford to take anymore. All the medical professionals who I’ve worked with since my crash, have strongly advised me not to go back to racing with my long term health being the primary reason.

Racing on the track at the elite level and being in the high-performance environment on a daily basis has truly brought me so much in many areas of my life. All of my training, racing, and the mentality I’ve cultivated throughout it all, has been so instrumental in my recovery. The skills you learn in training and racing go beyond the act of riding a bike, they are applicable to the bigger picture – to life itself. On top of that, racing has taken me all over the world to amazing places, and along the way, given me amazing experiences with amazing people, all of which I am extremely grateful for.

Although my career was relatively short, it was indeed a very rewarding journey. It was very fulfilling, and one that I don’t have any regrets with. My career started in 2010 with the Juventus Cycling Club in Edmonton on the 1978 Commonwealth Games Velodrome at the age of 12. While my interest in track cycling grew, I continued to race on the road, mountain bike, and cyclocross. In January of 2015 I got the opportunity to wear the maple leaf as a junior at Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. Later that same year I also represented Canada at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. I then quickly realized that track sprinting was my strength. One year later in Aigle, Switzerland I became the Junior Kilo World Champion and also won a bronze in the sprint. Later on in that same year at the Pan American Track Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico I set 2 new junior world records in both the 1 kilometre time trial and the flying 200 metre events. Two years later in the winter of 2018, I won silver in the keirin at the World Cup in Minsk, Belarus. Shortly after, I then competed in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for Canada. Being my first multi-sport games, it was truly a special experience for me. My track cycling racing career only spanned 3 years from August 2015 to August 30, 2018. Despite that it was nothing short of incredible, from the people I’ve met, to the knowledge I’ve learned, as well as the experiences I’ve had, all of which I am truly grateful for.

Elk Island Road Ride

Here is a photo of me on a road ride I went on with my Dad before the snow came this fall. Going for rides and spending time in the gym, both of which I am really passionate about, are playing a vital role in my recovery. And as for the next step in my life, the plan is to first fully recover. Then I can honestly say I’m not sure which path I’ll choose or what my future holds in store for me. I’m still young, at 21 years old. I’ve got ideas and I’ve got options. But I’m still undecided as to which way I will go.

I would like to sincerely thank everyone from the bottom of my heart, for  all the support during my career, as well as all the encouragement, thoughts, and prayers for me after my crash. I will always look back at this part of my life very fondly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. But as this good ride comes to an end, it marks the closing of this chapter in my life as a track sprinter. At the very same time, new doors are opening for me. I find myself entering an exciting time, a renaissance, a new beginning, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.

All the best,

Stefan

Links to articles relating to my leaving Elite Track Cycling:

Cycling Canada

Canadian Cyclist

2018 Pan-Amercian Track Cycling Championship

Stefan crashed on August 30th at the 2018 Pan-Amercian Track Cycling Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

We (Barbara, Norman and Carsten Ritter) would personally like to thank the Cycling Canada for all their love and support at this time. As well as the love, outreach and support from lots of family, friends, Edmonton and world wide cycling communities, our Trinity Lutheran church community, and Cycling Canada family.

We are also very appreciative of the excellent medical care Stefan is receiving at the ICU in an Edmonton hospital.

We are very appreciative of Prayers being said on behalf of Stefan in various spiritual communities and by many individuals around the globe.

Please read the 21 Day Stefan Karl Ritter Healing Prayer as a way to assist in his recovery.

Here is the Press Release from Cycling Canada.

STEFAN RITTER STATUS
Sept. 8, 2018 – Canadian cycling team member Stefan Ritter is in stable condition at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton after crashing heavily at the Pan American Track Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on Aug. 30.
Stefan, 20, was competing in the men’s Keirin event when the crash happened. He lost consciousness and was treated immediately at trackside by Canadian medical staff before taken being to hospital where he was sedated and placed in intensive care. On Sept. 4, as soon as an ICU bed opened up in his home town of Edmonton, Stefan was transported there by air ambulance. He remains in intensive care.
Stefan’s treatment is focussed on his head injury: despite the severity of the crash, his only other serious injury was a fracture to his cheek bone, which is expected to heal in due course. His family and medical staff are optimistic that he will make a full recovery, though it will take time.
The Ritter family has asked they not be contacted directly by media about his condition. Any significant public updates will be shared through Cycling Canada’s media channels.
In the meantime, messages of encouragement or support to Stefan and his family will be warmly welcomed. Please send them to Cycling Canada High Performance Director Kris Westwood at kris.westwood@cyclingcanada.ca.
——
Kris Westwood
High Performance Director
Cycling Canada
Directeur de la haute performance
Cyclisme Canada
Mobile: +1 613 447 2849
Skype: kris.westwood
Here is a link to an article published in the Edmonton Journal:

posted by Barbara Ritter

GC2018 XXI Commonwealth Games

2018 XXI Commonwealth Games

Gold Coast, Australia – April 4 to 15, 2018

Stefan competed for Team Canada in the four Track Sprint Cycling events in the newly built Anna Meares Velodrome in Brisbane from April 4 to April 8, 2018.

DAY 1 – April 5 – Team Sprint – placed 4th – 44.346 (qualifier)

Team Sprint

Stefan and Hugo in Lap Two of Team Sprint

Team Canada qualified with a time of 44.346. They raced against Team Australia in the Bronze medal round and placed fourth with a time of 44.946. Interview and photos by Canadian Cyclist. Congratulations to Canadian Men’s and Women’s Pursuit Teams on their Bonze medal wins on that day!!

DAY 2 – April 6 – Keirin – placed 11th

DAZN GC2018 Keirin

The Keirin racing was fast and furious. The Commonwealth Games had a large contingent of top world class sprinters competing here, including World Champion Matthew Glaetzer from Australia.  Stefan held his position in the first round of Keirins and finished second with the heat having an average speed of 68.305 km/h. The second round was tougher tactic and speed wise and he placed fourth. Average speed of this heat was 70.741 km/h. He raced in the 7 to 12 final with a 11th place finish.

DAY 3 – April 7 – Match Sprints – ranked 11th – 9.803 (qualifier)

DAZN GC2018 Sprint

Stefan qualified with a time of 9.803 and speed of 73.447 km/h which was a personal best at sea level. In the 1/8 finals he versed Australia’s Jacob Schmid in which he lost by a very close margin of 0.040 which is about half a wheel. To appreciate the level of competition, Jacob Schmid went on and finished with a bronze. Stefan’s final ranking was 13th place in the match sprint.

DAY 4 – April 8 – Kilo – ranked 14th – 1:02.339

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Stefan’s text book start and first two laps were placing him in 9th position but he began losing power the last two laps. The Kilo is an extremely taxing event on the body and Stefan rode it with a broken collarbone. He rode it in 1:02.339 with an average speed of 57.749 km/h. Again there was some top notch competition with Eddie Dawkins of New Zealand breaking the 1 minute barrier first and then by Matt Glaetzer with a winning time of 0.59.340.

In Canada, exclusive coverage of the GC2018 Games was brought by DAZN, an on-line web streaming service. DAZN also kindly featured Stefan as the cover photo on the highlight videos of the Men’s Sprint events.

The Gold Coast 2018 Games, also known as  ‘the Friendly Games’, hosted over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories to participate in 23 sports and 7 para-sports.  HRH Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) represented Her Majesty The Queen at the Opening Ceremonies on April 4, 2018.

Commonwealth Games Canada sent more than 280 athletes of which Cycling Canada sent 18 cyclists to compete in track cycling, road racing, and mountain biking.

Track Teacm GC2018

“The Commonwealth Games is a really special event,” said Canada’s Team Leader for cycling Kris Westwood.  “On the one hand it’s a highly competitive event that gives our veteran athletes a shot at career highlight performances; on the other hand it’s an opportunity to give valuable major Games experience to our future Olympians — this will be the first Games experience for nearly half our delegation. In track cycling, with Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand competing, the field will be world-class.

posted by Barbara Ritter

 

2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships Apeldoorn

(cover photo courtesy of SWpix.com)

UCI 2018 Track Cycling World Championships

Apeldoorn, Netherlands – February 28 to March 4, 2018

March 2, 2018 – Stefan placed 12th in the sprint qualifications with a time of 9.828. This paired him up in the 1/16 Final against Yuta Wakimoto of Japan. Unfortunately, he lost and did not proceed in the match sprints.

March 42018 – Stefan placed 16th in the kilo time trial with a time of 1:01.923.

Here is a interview of Stefan with Canadian Cyclist recapping his rides with a broken clavicle injury.

“It’s not the ride I was hoping for,” admitted Ritter, “I was definitely hoping for a top-10.  But considering that I could not do a bunch of kilo prep and we didn’t practice many starts because of my shoulder, honestly, I’m pretty happy with 16th.  I did feel it on the standing starts; it’s painful but I can push through it.  Honestly, I’m pretty lucky that I can still ride and race.”

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Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.19.21 AM

 

posted by Barbara Ritter

World Cup V, Minsk, January 2018

World Cup V

Minsk, Belarus – 19 to 21 January 2018

Men’s Keirin – Saturday, January 20th

SILVER for Stefan

video of Keirin Final

Quoted from Canadian Cyclist: For Ritter, a former Junior world champion (Kilo), the podium result came after a long recovery from a crash in 2017 that kept him out of competition for the earlier part of the 2017-2018 World Cup season.  Ritter had to go through the ‘second chance’ repechage race to qualify for the semi-finals, but won his semi-final race to make it into the medal final, where six riders competed for the medals.  In the Final, Ritter finished second to Matthijs Buchli of the Netherlands.

“Overall I’m really happy with how today went,” said Ritter.  “I couldn’t have asked for more, to be honest.  Considering this is the first time I’ve raced the Keirin at a World Cup, I’m really happy with silver.  Except for the first ride, all my rides went really well tactically, I feel like I made good decisions.”

 

Minsk World Cup V 2018 Silver Keirins

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 10.09.35 AM

Men’s Sprint – Sunday, January 21st

  • Stefan placed 4th in sprint qualifying with a time of 9.820.
  • In the 1/8 Final he lost to Theo Bos of the Netherlands.
  • Overall he placed 9th.

CONGRATULATIONS also to the Canadian NextGen Women’s Team Pursuit squad who took bronze! They are: Erin Attwell (Victoria, BC), Maggie Coles-Lyster (Maple Ridge, BC), Devaney Collier (Edmonton, Alberta), and Laurie Jussaume (Contrecoeur, Quebec).

Courtesy of Canadian Cyclist, further photos can be found here: photo gallery

posted by Barbara Ritter

 

Track Cycling Challenge 2017

The Canadian Sprint Team had a few days break and then it was back to racing. This time in Grenchen, Switzerland at the Tissot Velodrome for the Track Cycling Challenge 2017.

Wednesday, December 20th was a day of Men Elite sprinting. Stefan steadily raced all day starting with the second fastest qualifying time to ending the day in fourth place after racing against Grégory Bauge of France in the Bronze medal match. It was an excellent day of racing for Stefan and one can watch the races by clicking here.

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UCI TRACK CYCLING CHALLENGE 2017

 

Stefan versus Aleksandr Dubchenko in the quarterfinals. The photographer caught Stefan preparing to throw his bike over the finish line which allowed Stefan to win that heat.

 

Thursday, December 21st was another great day of racing, this time in the Men’s Keirins. Stefan finished with a SILVER! The main blog picture is of the Final heat going into the last lap.

CONGRATULATIONS!

TTC 2017 podium

Ulf Schiller, photographer, caught some behind the scenes at the competition. Stefan’s bike and the numbers used to pull for positions in match sprints and keirins.

UCI TRACK CYCLING CHALLENGE 2017

UCI TRACK CYCLING CHALLENGE 2017

posted by Barbara Ritter

Troféu Internacional Municipio de Anadia 2017

Thanks to the UVP – Federação Portuguesa de Ciclismo‘s Facebook page, here are a few photos of Stefan.

DAY 1 – Sprint – Silver

Flying 200 Qualifier with a first place qualifying time of 9.993.

Match Sprint for first place versus Vaslijus Lendel. See the race in action – click here.

Match Sprint Medal Ceremony

DAY 2 – Kilo TT – Silver

Stefan placed second (1:02.93) in the Kilometre Time Trial on Day 2 of the Troféu International Municipal de Anadia.

 

DAY 3 – Keirins – 7th

Trofeu Keirin Qualifier.jpg

 

On Day 3 was the Keirins. Stefan began by leading in the Keirin qualifiers (see picture). However, placed 7th overall in the Keirins by winning the 7-12 finals heat.

 

posted by Barbara Ritter

Track Record and Saddle Broken

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 12.57.16 PM

Stefan was back in the saddle racing at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome today, June24th. Broke the velodrome’s track record in the Men’s Flying 200m at 10.179. But just like the NEW saddle Stefan broke mid way through the ride, his holding of the track record was sweet but short. Shortly thereafter, Harrie Lavreysen (NED) bests Stefan’s time, just to be broken in the next heat by Eddie Dawkins (NZL) who set the new record at 10.141.

 

posted by Barbara Ritter

Trexlertown June 9th

Season opener of the Valley Preferred Cycling Centre in Trexlertown, PA, began with the UCI U.S. Sprint Gran Prix. Stefan set himself up nicely with a sprint qualifier of 10.300 behind Canadian Teammate Hugo Barrette. In the quarter finals Stefan was matched up with Eddie Dawkins (NZL). Thanks to Chris Knight for posting photos.

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Next onto the semi-final where Stefan was matched up with Harrie Lavreysen (NED). Where he lost with a very close finish.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 9.35.51 AM

To finish the evening Stefan was matched up with teammate Hugo Barrette (CAN) for the third place final. Stefan came up a little short, finishing 4th in the UCI U.S. Sprint Gran Prix – a great result nevertheless!

posted by Barbara Ritter