“If I’m riding lots and having lots of fun then I’m just going to ride better and go faster.”
It’s a simple statement that at the time probably didn’t mean that much to anyone except for the kid who said it, but a few years later this quote carried some heavy weight with it.
He ended up becoming the most successful Canadian to ever race DH. He accomplished multiple World Cup wins in his early 20’s and in 2013 he bested all riders to win the overall world cup title. That kid from Nanaimo who seemed to keep it so simple was the best in the world.
Right after he won the title, his manager was quoted as saying, “Nothing gets to him, you can mess with his tire pressure, you can play games with him, and he just smiles.”
Maybe he had the secret to success, maybe he was a phenom, maybe it was just a case of great things coming to great people. No matter what it was, he just always seemed to handle the pressure with class, race his bike like he was out riding with his buddies, and I can’t remember seeing him in a video or photo without that big gapped tooth smile. During his last race, a flat tire eliminated his chances that day, but he still wheelied across the finish line with one hand on the bars and the other waving to the crowd. Even after a disappointing result, he still managed to infuse some fun into it.
Sadly, last week, Steve Smith lost his life in a motocross accident at the young age of 26. He was a hero to mountain bikers across Canada and around the world.
I have never met or had any contact with Steve Smith, but after hearing the news I was devastated, I’m still devastated. My friends feel the same. He was so inspiring that he affected strangers and fans with huge amounts of positivity, not only as a rider, but in the way he carried himself. Even after his tragic death he still inspires me to keep it simple, have fun and remember to smile.
Thanks Stevie for the entertainment, for carrying Canada’s hopes on your shoulders and for the inspiration. RIP