Stevie Smith was unquestionably talented on a bike, but with that gap-toothed shit-eating grin it was obvious that he had a nice balance of fun and precision to his personality. He worked hard, crashed a ton, and eventually found a groove that only years of mistakes could allow.
As he started honing in his life skills, his race results also flourished. His race run at Mt.St.Anne world champs where he finished 2nd to Sam Hill mesmerized me. I could tell that he let go of any care about weather, or adversity, and made the belief real about becoming a champion. He worked harder, dug deeper, until he was able to pull off a fairy book season. He won the World Cup in St.Anne, and later unleashed the "chainsaw massacre" streak in 2013. Norway World Cup finals is a time and place synonymous with Stevie in my mind.
I am proud of him for the fact that he never had excuses, found some discipline, and genuinely loved riding bikes enough to endure all the pain he had to go through with injuries. He simplified things in a way that made them believable, then would add a crass statement or something with a chuckle that was so classic. I knew whatever he told me was possible, or at least he would crash trying.
Going fast and taking chances was the way he lived, so to become World Cup Champion in an unorthodox way, was a testament to his will for it. As a fan and friend there was nothing better than seeing the green light at the end of his run. It always felt like he was on "our" team, us vs them, Stevie our North American warrior. He was way more than just a fast rider or good dude, and everybody knows it. His presence will be deeply missed. Xoxox Jill