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Steve Smith Memorial DH brings racing (and community) back to Vancouver Island

Fast rides and good vibes at penultimate BC Cup event

BC Cup downhill racing headed to Vancouver Island over the weekend for the Steve Smith Memorial race at Mount Washington. The event is, of course, named in memory of the late-Canadian racing icon who grew up riding and racing on the island before taking his talents to World Cup venues around the globe.

Close to 200 racer showed up at Mount Washington for the race, a testament to the thriving state of downhill in Canada and the continuing legacy of Smith. #longlivechainsaw!

A surprise for Tiana Smith

What happens on the track is only part of a race weekend. This was especially true at Mount Washington this year, as a few of the most memorable events happened outside the tape, or aren’t obvious just from looking over the results sheet.

The moments started Saturday night, when Brett Tippie and Bowhead presented Tiana Smith, Steve Smith’s mother, with a surprise, crowdfunded aMTB from Bowhead. Tiana shows up at many of the races and still runs the Steve Smith Legacy Foundation, which supports aspiring Canadian downhill racers. She first tried the Bowhead after Canadian DH nationals at Kicking Horse earlier this summer. After seeing how much she enjoyed it, several individuals rallied support, and Bowhead agreed to provide a bike at cost.

The crowdfunding page for Tiana Smith’s aMTB is still open for anyone that would like to add their support.

Magnus Manson back between the tape at the Steve Smith Memorial DH.

A returning champion

The weekend also saw the return of Magnus Manson to racing. The past Canadian downhill national champion missed out on most of this summer’s racing after being diagnosed with cancer mid-season.

Manson raced in Sunday’s elite men’s event, crossing the line to loud cheers from the crowd in the finish area. Despite being more focused on treatment than any form of training, Manson crossed the line 0.05 seconds outside the top-10.

Racing: Steve Smith Memorial DH

While many of B.C.’s top junior and elites were in Italy for world championships, a big crowd of just shy of 200 downhill racers, family and friends braved BC Ferries to make it to Mount Washington to race the classic “Monster Mile” course. While the Steve Smith Memorial usually delivers wet and muddy racing, this year saw uncharacteristically dry course conditions. The track was just as treacherous, though, with rocks and roots covered with a slippery layer of dust.

While some fields were smaller, the under-17, sport and masters categories all had long lists of competitors. The spirit, community and future of downhill in Canada are all healthy. As the results from the B.C. racers in Italy showed, the sharp end is looking fast right now, too.

In the elite races, two-time national champion Kirk McDowall and Julia Long took top honours. North Vancouver’s Drew Mozell and Comox local Isabelle Orsler won the junior races. Kayley Sherlock and Tegan Cruz won the u17 men’s and women’s races.

Notably, Cruz’s u17 winning time was the days fastest, across categories. The RockShox-Trek rider from Pemberton narrowly edged out the top elite riders, posting a time just under one second faster than McDowall’s winning time.

Sunday’s “Sport” categories were the day’s largest, with many local Island racers taking the opportunity to race at their local mountain.

Full results from the 2021 Steve Smith Memorial DH BC Cup are below.

The BC Cup series wraps up on the Sunshine Coast on September 26 with the first ever Coast Gravity Park DH. Rescheduled from 2020, and from its original 2021 date, CGP will host the series finale on a new track.

Steve Smith Memorial DH BC Cup Amy Ertel
Amy Ertel sprints to second in Pro Women.

Results: 2021 Steve Smith Memorial DH BC Cup – Mount Washington, B.C. (Aug. 29)