Canadian Downhill legend Steve Smith dies at 26

Rider’s drive, determination and love for living will be remembered by all those whose paths he crossed

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Steve Smith's smile was infectious. I never knew him well, but he was always as kind and funny in our interactions as you'd expect from his race day persona.

Steve Smith’s smile was infectious. I never knew him well, but he was always as kind and funny in our interactions as you’d expect from his race day persona (click to enlarge). Photo by Sven Martin and Sterling Lorence

On any given day, there are dozens of press emails that pass through my inbox. Most are related to kickstarters or something else not worth covering, so I had already clicked through to the next email, annoyed the sender hadn’t used a BCC when I realized what the subject title was – Canadian Downhill Legend Steve Smith Dies at 26.

I think it was the age that hit me, that made me realize that this was THE Steve Smith. The kid who dreamed of wanting to ride his bike full time, whose mom would shuttle him in her little Samurai Tracker lap after lap. Riding full time was my dream too and watching Stevie’s video segment in the films Seasons never ceased to inspire me, especially because we were born only a few months apart.

He passed away today from a traumatic brain injury suffered while riding enduro motorcycles and as a result, the world is a little less brighter today.

For more info on Steve’s multitude of accomplishments on the bike, the love his friends had for him, and details surrounding his memorial, please see the information below:

World Cup sensation Steve Smith passed away this afternoon after suffering a massive brain injury resulting from an enduro motorcycle accident in his hometown of Nanaimo, British Columbia. He was 26 years old.

“Today we lost a great person, who taught me about myself and influenced many,” says Devinci Global Racing Team Manager, Gabe Fox. “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.”

As an American, it's always nice to see Gwin on top, but there was something magical about the 2013 WC season.

As an American, it’s always nice to see Gwin on top, but there was something magical about the 2013 WC season (click to enlarge). Photo by Sven Martin and Sterling Lorence

Smith hailed from Vancouver Island, where he sharpened his mountain biking skills on the rainforest trails of Mt. Prevost. A force on the Canadian downhill racing scene for years, he became an international household name in 2013 after pocketing World Cup wins at Leogang, Hafjell, and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que. Those efforts culminated in the World Cup Overall Title the same year—downhill racing’s ultimate achievement.

Smith is revered by fellow competitors and loved by friends, family and fans, who’ve been following what had been an explosive start to the 2016 season. Pushing past injuries that led to consecutive sidelined seasons, The Canadian Chainsaw was back in podium form this past April for the UCI WC Mountain Bike opener in Lourdes, France, where he finished in second place.

A driven athlete and fierce competitor, Smith was humble and grounded off the track. He was a notable influence on all young and aspiring Canadian gravity racers and others around the world. He was also a key mentor to friend and DGR teammate, Mark Wallace.

“I would not be anywhere on the bike without Steve,” Wallace says. “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.”

Steve grew up in front of the mountain bike world from the likable teenager to the victorious Chainsaw Massacre.

Steve grew up in front of the mountain bike world from the likable teenager to the victorious Chainsaw Massacre (click to enlarge). Photo by Sven Martin and Sterling Lorence

At home, in his close-knit Vancouver Island community, Smith was known as a consummate outdoorsman. This is where he spent time fishing, camping, and sinking birdie putts on the golf course. His spirit was infectious and inspirational. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his close family and those he positively affected. Steve Smith is survived by his devoted mother, Tiann, sister, Kara, his uncle, Eric, niece and nephew, Myla and Luke, grandmother, Judi, and girlfriend, Caily Schenkeveld.

His family remembers him as a great warrior.

“Steve was the most successful Canadian Gravity Racer of all time,” Fox says. “His passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts here at Devinci.”

A Celebration of Life will be held on May 21 at 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre in Nanaimo, B.C. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the “Stevie Smith Legacy Fund” at www.gofundme.com/23k7fus. Funds will be earmarked for a Tiann Smith initiative, assisting talented young athletes.


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