Downhill MTB legend Stevie Smith dies at 26

This article first appeared on Bike Radar

We were deeply saddened to hear the tragic news that Stevie Smith passed away yesterday while riding enduro motorbikes in Canada.

Stevie will certainly be remembered fondly – he was a true legend and inspired many. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends, loved ones and fans. Ride in peace, Stevie.

Smith's Devinci team has spoken about Stevie in a moving message:

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," said Gabe Fox, team manager at Devinci Global Racing, Smith's team. "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."

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. Those efforts culminated in the overall World Cup title the same year – downhill racing’s ultimate achievement.

Smith is revered by fellow competitors and loved by friends, family and fans, who had been following his 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 said. "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."

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 said. "His passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts here at Devinci."

Cycling Canada released statements on Wednesday morning from Jacques Landry, Cycling Canada’s High Performance Director, and John Tolkamp, President of Cycling Canada.

“We are really stunned and disheartened to hear of Steve’s passing. From all accounts he was definitely the best downhill mountain biker Canada has ever known. Steve left his mark by winning multiple national titles and winning the overall World Cup series in 2013, as well as three World Cup events. He will be greatly missed by the international Downhill community, Canadian Mountain Bikers and the people he was the closest to. Our sincerest condolences go out to Steve’s family, team mates and supporters in this very sad time,” Landry said.

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 Funds will be earmarked for a Tiann Smith initiative, assisting talented young athletes.

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