CHEERS TO THE CHAINSAW
|He's got big aims he's going for, he wants number one in the world. Who knows, you know it could be anyone. Some days I look at him and think, ''Wow, he's from Cassidy.''|
Tiann Smith - Seasons
The maple leaf on his left shoulder marked him as Canadian national champ, but he would have held that title in our hearts regardless.
Stevie Smith was born November 25, 1989, in Cassidy, British Columbia and passed away May 10, 2016, in Nanaimo. He is Canada’s most successful downhiller of all-time: winner of the UCI World Cup overall title in 2013, four individual World Cup race wins, World Championship silver and bronze medals, multiple Canadian National Championships, and numerous Crankworx victories. But he was so much more to us than a trophy case full of Gold; he was one of us, a guy who just loved to ride his bike and became the best in the world at it.
Stevie was introduced to most of us through his video segment in Seasons
. We met a fresh-faced, gap-toothed, 17-year-old boy and his mother, Tiann Smith. That segment captured Tiann's sacrifice as a single mom, and the love and pride with which she nurtured Stevie's riding talent. Over the years we watched as he cut through the ranks with an aggressive style that earned him the nickname ''The Canadian Chainsaw Massacre'' while maintaining the same small town humility we first saw in Seasons.
Everyone who met him has a Stevie story, a moment which could speak to his deep competitive fire, his humour, or his kindness. He always made time for fans, and we repaid him by screaming at our computers as he chased a World Cup title, cringed when injuries ravaged his 2014/15 campaigns, and laughed at his videos with Ian Morrison
. He was a global ambassador for Vancouver Island, proof that anyone could make it out of their hometown and on to the podium with enough hard work and dedication. He was a professional athlete who acted as a brother to riders everywhere. A boy who made his mother proud.
Growing up on Vancouver Island meant Stevie was more than just a celebrity in magazines and movies. He was one of the guys, a fixture at Mt. Prevost, Tzouhalem, and Doumont. He was the reason I started following World Cup racing, getting up at 4 a.m. to watch as he mercilessly slaughtered tracks around the globe. My first time filming with him came during Crankworx 2012: I had never seen anyone ride that fast in person before and to this day will never forget the sound of his bike through the last big rock garden on the Canadian Open - he was so smooth it was eerily quiet. Stevie would win his first World Cup one month later, in Norway.
The last time I shot with him came in July 2015 when I filmed with Stevie and Mark Wallace on Blackcomb in Whistler. The trails were dusty, and Mark was riding in front of Stevie, smothering him with dust as he followed. Stevie was completely choked out and riding blind on almost every shot but just laughed it off, ‘’Guess I should have brought goggles!’’ At the first World Cup this season Stevie was 2nd and Mark finished 8th. I think Stevie's legacy will be carried on by Mark and the next generation of young riders at Prevost; mentored by Stevie, motivated by the knowledge that a Canadian can be #1.
I could never understand sports fanatics who'd watch every game and agonize over wins and losses - until I met Stevie. He raced to win but never let his competitiveness get in the way of being a genuinely nice person. Cheers to the Chainsaw, thanks for tearing it up for us all on race day.
| It would be cool to have someone from Canada be at the top with Sam Hill and Steve Peat. |
Stevie Smith, age 17
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