The downhill mountain biking world lost Steve Smith on May 10. The phenom from Vancouver Island passed away after suffering a massive brain injury caused by an enduro motorcycle accident in his hometown of Nanaimo, B.C.
RELATED: Riders pay tribute to Steve Smith
Smith was 26 years old.
As Canadian Cycling Magazine reported in February, Smith had been named to lead the downhill ranks of Devinci Global Racing for the 2016 season. At the head of Devinci’s gravity squad, his mission was to repeat the success of 2013 that earned him that year’s World Cup overall title, after claiming podiums at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que. and Leogang, Austria.
For the next two seasons, Smith was sidelined by injury, but as the 2016 season kicked off, Smith was characteristically driven.
“I’ve had an awesome off-season with tons of racing, training, physio and doing everything I can do better myself,” he said, “both physically and mentally. The mental game is essential to racing and there’s a huge difference between wanting to win and knowing you can.” Last month, Smith’s dedication, discipline and perseverance had paid off, with the rider called “the Canadian Chainsaw” appearing on the podium in Lourdes, France to take second place at this year’s UCI World Cup mountain bike opener.
Beloved by fans, friends and teammates, Smith’s death is a staggering loss, with his role as a mentor and leader to his squad leaving a painful void for Devinci Global Racing itself.
“I would not be anywhere on the bike without Steve,” said Mark Wallace, Smith’s friend and fellow downhill rider. “Most importantly, he taught me to be confident in my abilities, race my bike properly and take risks. As training partners, we pushed each other to the limit.”
Team manager Gabe Fox shared Wallace’s sentiment. “Today we lost a great person,” the Devinci principal said, “who taught me about myself and influenced many. Stevie was a fierce competitor, an honest friend and a rider who made me proud on countless occasions. I am honoured to consider him my friend for so long.”
“Steve was the most successful Canadian gravity racer of all time. His passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts here at Devinci.”
On May 21, at 1 p.m. PDT, a celebration of Steve Smith’s life will be held at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre in Nanaimo, B.C. In lieu of flowers, it is asked that donations be made to the Stevie Smith Legacy Fund, with funds assisting talented young athletes.