Barely seven months old, Nanaimo’s Stevie Smith Bike Park will be a key player in a first-of-its-kind international cycling competition this summer.
One hundred pro competitors and their support teams will converge on Nanaimo Aug. 4 for the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship 2018, a joint venture by Velosolutions, an internationally recognized bike park design and construction firm, and Red Bull to host the first-ever world series of pump track competition.
Staring in March, 25 qualifying qualifying events will be held in locations around the world that include Indonesia, the Philippines, Lesotho, Estonia, Japan, Chile, Canada, the U.S. and South Africa, to name a few and Nanaimo has been announced as one of two Canadian locations in the series.
Claudio Caluori, series organizer and owner of Velosolutions and friend of Steve Smith, 2013 world champion downhill mountain bike racer from Cassidy who died in a motorcycling accident in 2016, said in online correspondence with the News Bulletin that including Nanaimo – a Velosolutions-designed track – was an easy choice.
“What better place could there be?” Caluori asked. “Stevie was a friend, the good times we had when building the track in Nanaimo, the people we met, the friends we made, Vancouver Island as a whole, Nanaimo with its incredible riding scene, bringing out top riders on a regular basis and last but not least, the track we were allowed to build made the choice for the Canadian location very easy.”
Caluori, who is in Durban, South Africa, building a track for the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship series, said the Nanaimo track is one of the biggest and one of the most important.
“Since we were allowed to build a beginners’ track as well as an advanced track, we didn’t have to hold back on the design,” he said. “The race is going to be held on the advanced track and you will clearly be able to see the differences between the top riders and the amateurs. The riding level in Nanaimo is outstanding. Generally, we felt like Vancouver Island is a magical place and we wanted to come back there no matter what.”
The pro race will be limited to 100 racers so organizers can handle qualifiers and knock-out heats in one day. The top 32 riders will qualify for the knock-out heats. Riders who make it to the quarter-finals will be qualified for the world championship final in Switzerland.
Randy Little, Stevie Smith Legacy Foundation board member, said the response to the series announcement has been overwhelming.
“Oh, it’s huge,” Little said. “I’m getting messages, like, absolutely crazy. People are lit. This is a worldwide thing that Claudio is doing … we’re getting tons and tons of feedback from the community already.”
Caluori said the Nanaimo event date was chosen specifically so he could attend before flying to Quebec for the Canada world cup a week later.
“Stevie was a friend on the circuit who would always leave good vibes behind, and so he does now, as you can see in his bike park, and we want to bring something back with the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship,” Caluori said.