Brad Nelson was among the competitors at Steve Smith Bike Park in Nanaimo on Saturday afternoon, taking part in the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship qualifier. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

UPDATED: Nanaimo pumped for Red Bull Pump Track World Championship event

Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie wins men’s division of world qualifier at Steve Smith Bike Park

People were pumped up and let it ride at Steve Smith Bike Park in Nanaimo on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Bull Pump Track World Championship Canadian qualifying event took place Friday and Saturday at the Beban Park pump tracks, named in memory of late world champion downhill mountain bike racer Steve Smith.

For the second straight year, Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie defended his home track to win the men’s division. Jacob Jewett of Squamish placed second with Mitch Landry and Nate Berkheimer of Nanaimo third and fourth, respectively.

In women’s action, Violet Cejalvo of Langley was the winner. Karsen Tielen of Maple Ridge was runner-up, Alaina Henderson of Encinitas, Calif., took third and Haley Stonnell of Victoria was fourth.

Top male and female riders receive an invitation to the world championship final in Switzerland in October.

Brad Nelson, a Nanaimo racer, said he was happy to be taking part in event that was essentially in his backyard.

“I haven’t ridden in a while, I’m doing not too bad. I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing,” said Nelson. “It’s awesome just to have it in town, a couple of minutes away from my house. I’m here all the time riding.”

RELATED: New Nanaimo bike park honours Steve Smith

Michelle Corfield, Steve Smith Legacy Foundation founder, said the event, which was first held in Nanaimo last year, is gaining momentum.

“Today we’ve got quite a few locals riding and we had lots of locals out [Friday] at our kids’ events,” said Corfield. “This is really becoming an event to come to. As you can see, there’s a lot of people here that are just watching and don’t ride bikes, but they’re here for the excitement and so we’re very, very excited to put this event on.”

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