Steve Smith Interview: In Winter
We caught up with Steve Smith back home in Vancouver Island to see what was up. Words by Steve Jones.
Taken from Dirt issue 144, February 2014
Canadian Stevie Smith has been on a slow burn for a number of years, but in 2013 all his years of effort and dedication came to fruition when he won the Downhill World Cup overall title in a fiercely fought series. We caught up with him back home in Vancouver Island to see what was up.
OK, life on the island – fishing and hunting or enduro bikes and beer, what's happening at minute?
Steve Smith: It’s been a pretty dry winter as of so far. The mountain I ride on only has a light sprinkle of snow over it. It’s super–frozen but I’m able to ride still. I’ve just been training full time and throwing as much enjoyable activity in as I can. I actually got a new roommate this Fall, which has been very cool. He’s a great training buddy in the gym and enjoys getting his ass whooped out on road rides. I’ve been riding a chunk of enduro MX and also the MX track a little bit. Since it’s been dry and cold it’s made for good skating so we have been playing a bunch of hockey on one of the frozen lakes. This is the first year I’ve gotten in to that and it’s super fun. Bikes, MX bikes, fishing, hockey, razoring and gyming is what my winter is all about.
Working on anything new bike wise? Got to be 650 for 2014 right?
Steve Smith: Devinci has a bunch of cool projects on the go. Obviously you saw my last years World’s bike with the big wheels, so yeah we’re still testing things out and trying stuff.
What have you been testing?
Steve Smith: Not a ton of stuff recently, but we had a good session in Italy a while back as a whole team. It was a good time to be out on the downhill rigs in the sun with no stress of racing. I think it was my first time going to Europe just to ride my bicycle.
Three World Cup wins on the trot, that puts you in pretty exclusive company! Aaron Gwin, Sam Hill, Chris Kovarik, Nico Vouilloz, Corrado Herrin. It was pretty much slow burn from 2010 to get them though?
Steve Smith: I feel privileged to be apart of such a exclusive group of riders especially when I read it like that. It’s pretty wild. I can’t explain how it all goes. You see young guys like Loic Bruni, Hill, Troy Brosnan shoot right to the top at a young age. It never went that way for me. It’s taken me a solid amount of years to gain the real confidence to be at the very top. Of course I always wanted it but it was always a big dream and a scary one too. Getting my first podium in 2010 was a big stepping stone.
Out on the west coast of the island is the wettest place in North America! I guess it’s pretty dry down south east... anyhow, how much time do you spend riding in mud?
Steve Smith: I spend all my time in the mud. The only time it isn’t muddy during winter is when it’s too cold and the ground turns to concrete. If I didn't have to clean my muddy gear and bike every time I’d have no problem riding in the rain every day. I really enjoy it. Toughens you up too. I’m never cold at races ha ha.
How surprised were you at Aaron Gwin's demise last year?
Steve Smith: I was quite surprised to be completely honest. Other than him missing the last round of 2012 he showed to be quite dominant. Understandable to fall back a bit here and there, it’s a tight sport. It has to be tough to be on top always and win back to back like he did 2011 and 2012. But I was a little surprised at the first two rounds this past season. Who knows what will happen this year. I’m sure it was a factor motivating for him (to not perform at 100%) to come back stronger than ever.
The final World Cup in Leogang (Austria) was your thirteenth race last season, how many for 2014?
Steve Smith: I’m not 100% on how many I will do next year. It always seems to be in the range of 12 to 15 per year. I love racing and if a smooth schedule allowed us to race more I’d be all for it. It’s tough when you fly across the world for one race. Can’t really treat it as a weekend trip ha ha.