Smith on the fast track to international level |

Smith on the fast track to international level

Matt O'Neill

For years, the South Shore has been a hotbed for mountain bikers.

Many riders have made names for themselves on the national level in both cross country and downhill events.

Only a couple have taken on Mountain Bike Trials. Of them, only one has reached the national level.

Scott Smith is that rider. With his latest third-place finish at a recent National Off Road Bike Association event at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the 16-year-old earned a spot on the Junior National team, which will compete Sept. 4 in Vail, Colo.

Mountain Bike Trials are less known than the other two events, but play an integral part in both cross country and downhill racing.

Trials is a bike circuit where bikers ride over logs, rocks, ruts and bumps without landing a foot on the ground.

Every time a competitor puts his foot down, points are added to their score. The rider with the lowest amount of points and has completed the course in the shortest amount of time is the winner.

Smith, however, didn’t have his mind set on competing in trials when he first started riding. No, he started out as a cross country rider like many of his peers until the day he caught a glimpse of what trials were like.

“My friend came over to my house and was hopping up and down on his bike in my driveway,” said Smith, who has been riding competitively for only three years. “I asked what he was doing and he told me about Trials and how they have competitions in it.

“I decided to try it and have done it ever since.”

In his first competitive event, in Monterey, Calif., at the Sea Otter Invitational, Smith took fourth as a 13-year-old novice and never looked back.

Now, as a men’s expert, he is poised to burst onto the national scene.

By finishing third, Smith caught the eye of J.P. Sickler, the national team manager, who was excited to see a young rider of his skill level.

“It was a refresher to see a rider of his talent and skill level who was also so young,” Sickler said. “Most of the time, riders at this stage have been riding for about seven or eight years.”

When Smith headed down to Mammoth last month to compete, he was not looking to secure a spot on the national team, but was just there to compete and have a good time.

“I didn’t even know they were looking for riders,” said Smith who rides for Track Rats BMX Shop in Meyers. “When I signed up, the guy told me if I finished third or better, I’d make the team.”

Smith went on to finish third and earned a trip to the UCI World Championships next month.

He’ll travel to Denver a week before the event and train with national team as a member of the 26-member squad, which will be filled out later this month at a NORBA event at Mount Snow, Vt.

“Scott had the advantage of riding at Mammoth because a lot of the riders have been waiting to qualify at Mount Snow,” Sickler said. “They stopped the national series two years ago, making it a lot more difficult to qualify for the team.”

Even without a national series to pull from, with the World Championships being held in the United States, Sickler was able to carry a lot more young riders.

“It gives us a better chance to get some riders experience on the international level,” he said.

Smith is planning to make the most of his opportunity.

“I going to head down there and have a good time,” the second-youngest member said. “I going to try to learn from all the other riders.”

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