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Stacy Kohut Interview
by Gary Millings

“Deus ex Machina”

I knew a little of Stacy Kohut before I started researching this interview but when you find out more about the guy you realise that some people just will not be stopped, no matter what life throws at them. An ‘extreme’ person an all senses of the word, Stacy rode motorcycles, BMX, skateboards, anything fast and dangerous. In 1992 he had an accident on a swing, of all things, which left him paraplegic…..for Stacy a minor setback, by 94 he was wearing an Olympic Gold Medal that he won on his Sit-Ski. This guy drops into 14ft half pipes in his WHEELCHAIR! He’s jumped 76ft and hit 100kph on a sit ski, he has graced the pages of DIRT, scored a 6 page interview in BIKE magazine, rocked it in the bike videos, raced bikes all over North America…. He just plain rocks.

So here’s the man himself...

Introducing Stacy Kohut

What about your achievements before 92?

Lets see, 3 time Provincial BMX champ in the expert class from 81-83,scored a 3rd one year at the Nationals. Undefeated 3 years running in motorcycle hare scrambles,82,83,84.I could ride a halfpipe on skateboard all right too!

And since 92?

Whew, first Canadian to win a Paralympic medal in a sit ski,1994.I scored a double at the World Champs in 1996, in downhill and super-g. Bagged some NORBA wins in my four cross (4 wheel bike),raced against the able bodied pros in Canada tons(which in reality is my favourite achievement),I am un defeated on Canadian soil racing my 4 wheel bike against other 4 wheelers, I’ve won some and lost some is good way to wrap it up. I am fully retired from skiing now, since 2002 really, bikes are my full time world now,………eat, sleep, and breathe bikes.

Wanna tell us a little more about the swing stunt?

A couple brews under my belt, full of self confidence, and went for the ‘superloop’. If I would have made it I would have been stoked, but I didn’t and paid the price, but really I looked at it like it was a second chance to really focus on my racing abilities.

Are you really pissed that you hurt yourself on a kids swing instead of trying some sick trick on a bike or board?

I could be, but I ain’t. It happened on the swing, and that is that. It could have happened soooooooo many times growing up living the life I did, see, daddy was a drag racer, momma was a bleached blonde……get the picture? I ate shit on my yz 125, and BMX pretty hard a few times, could have happened then, but it didn’t. By not happening during the activities I loved, it made me wanna get right back in the mix.

When you went to the Paralympics you must have been the new kid on the scene, competing against guys who had been in wheelchairs all their lives, and you kicked ass. That must have been a real boost.

Total boost, new kid on the block and all that. I was/am so punk rock compared to a lot of the traditional dudes. Word on the street is the times are a changing. I am part of that for sure, in all aspects of what I do. I remember doing all my training runs with my dyno bmx helmet, full visor and all. So punk, so funny, so ‘up yours’!

Did you design the sit-ski yourself?

I had a design partner, both of us are seat of your pants engineers, its really the only way. Same as the bike world, ya gotta have a jockey that can give the feedback to make it work in real life, otherwise, its just good on paper. Nobody wins shit riding on paper right?

Outlet Industries is your company, what’s it all about?

Outlet Industries is rider owned, rider controlled, rider driven. Its really the only way these days. We build/race/market 4 wheel dh mountain bikes, they are gravity powered machines and they rip!! You can be able bodied or disabled ,we do not care, just get in and rip it up. We have no desire to label this sport as “adaptive” or “disabled” or “for wheelchair people”, its so weak, so limiting that way.

Stacy Hipping it for the movie RISE foto: Warwick Patterson

Do you ride against the Pros on the bike circuit?

More than a few times I have signed up and ridden with the pros. My UCI licence says pro dh, that is what I am .I like to ride with my peers. The intensity is so much better, its more my style, I ride for fun, but the only reason I race is to lay down the very best race run I can and try to win. More than I few times, I have had some pretty sick lines that have rivalled the pro men/women, they kill me in the straights and on the start, but man can I corner!

What was it like getting on the 4X bike for the first time and heading of down some gnarly track, gotta be scary right?

I started slow and worked my way up. My progression was step by step, very logical and purposeful. Most NORBA and CANADA CUP courses are pretty good, I really wanna get to Europe and hit up some W/Cs though, the tracks look very Stacy friendly if ya know what I mean!

I guess riding the 4 wheeler can be pretty hard, if you kill a little too much speed for a jump or turn you’ll never make it back up. SO its all about hitting everything as FAST as you can?

Riding the 4 wheeler is one of the raddest things I have ever done, with or without the use of my legs .Its kinda like snowboarding in that to be okay, to get down the hill is fairly easy, to rip it up and with style takes so many miles and so many hours of seat time. Your managing gravity, your looking so far ahead its silly. You learn how to set up for corners, you have to!. Setting up is key, and like any bike sport, it really not how fast ya come into a corner, it how fast ya exit the damn thing! EXIT SPEED baby, exit speed. Its the key to getting to the elite level in any form of racing.

42mph at Mammoth!! Holy Shiznit!

High 30s ,low 40s, its fun, but really ,that old Kamikaze course, its fun, but its just a fire road ya know. At Mammoth nothing could be better than the Velocity course or even the Bullet course. Now to me , those courses define Mammoth, and dh mtbing for sure.

How many design changes did you go through with the bike til you got it right?

All the tweaks and changes are done, the tube wall thickness, the frame flex, the suspension, the axels, its really dialled for the geometry we have now. A new ride may be in the works, but really, the four cross by Outlet Industries is race ready, tested by some of the best out there!

Are you seeing able bodied guys getting hold of your 4 wheelers and racing against you, yet?

Its coming that’s for sure. Lots of interest, and we are encouraging it big time. The able bodied dudes are gonna love this thing. There has to be a reason so many people ride/race 4 wheel atv’s right? The mtb parks are just gonna make it happen in the mtb world too. We just sold one to a dude in the U.K(this guy is in a chair)., he will be out ripping next summer that’s for sure. Wait till the U.K. sees these things live, in person. Its gonna spread to the able bodied all over the world!

One minute, 14 seconds slower than Nathan Rennie on the 2004 Crankworx Air dh course!! That’s something that most of the people on Descent-World forum couldn’t achieve, how did that make you feel?

Rennie ran a 4:15, I ran a 5:29.Proud as all hell! I worked my butt off for that one, tons of training, great mental prep, the ride was dialled (thanks Anthony T from Fox Racing Shoxs!), it was a good run. Winning the 4 wheel class when there is one is very important, laying it down and comparing my time to the pro class is where its at for me these days though! On some 4x courses I can get within 15-30 seconds with the boys, that is a great feeling too. I am a 34 year old pro mtb’er, that’s who I compare myself to.

I’ve read a little about your venture into movies, how’s that going?

I’ve done the industry stuff, NWD 2 and 3,RISE, I got a few seconds in EARTHED(so stoked on that one!),lots of other clips in other vids too .I love doing the bike world stuff, helps promote my sponsors, me ,and the sport. I really wanna do more of it too! These days I am moving into the mainstream world, I got a hilariously funny satirical movie in the works, it gonna blow doors off! The adidas commercial I did (I was an actor, I ride for vans!), really got me going for making a dent in the mainstream. Think Spiderman combined with Spinal Tap!

Have you ever been to the UK? I reckon Fort William DH course is wide enough pretty much all the way down for the 4 wheeler.

Oh man, I can’t wait to get to Fort William! The course, the people, the fans, and the mtb community in the UK just seems so sick!. You got the best mag (DIRT), one of the, if not the best racing websites (descent-world), the Fort William course is legendary, the fans are off the hook, and racing is held in pretty high esteem over there, not like here in Canada where ewok villages and stinky cross ups rule,(freerider dig for sure!).My sponsors are starting to realize the value in having someone like myself travel to promote dh racing in mtbing, and hell, I’d love to but on a show for the UK race fans. I could lay a line down in between the women and mens final run. It will happen, I just hope sooner than later! I realize I can be an inspiration, but more than anything I wanna put on a show, I wanna entertain the fans with my race runs. Don’t kid yourself, racing is ‘sports entertainment’.

You must get some strange looks from the lifties when you roll up at the lift station for the first time?

Yeah, but mostly they are stoked to have me riding at the hill. Its a bit of an education process for loading etc, but it takes what, 2 minutes to get everyone on the same page?. It's all downhill from there.

Favourite riding places?

In the US, I’ll call Mammoth, in Canada, well, thats gotta be Whistler, and I really wanna hit up Europe. I know a lot of old school dudes may bag on this, but I love mtb parks, I really feel it’s the future, and ones with lifts for dh is what I am talking bout. And really, its got nothing to do with me being in a wheelchair, its just I love the moto and bmx influence in dh, and the parks seem to foster that.

Favourite places to chill?

At home with Sarah Jane, my girl, or at a coffee shop, or maybe a bike shop bench racing with the crew.

How often do you go out with the guys and get totally wheel-less?

You know, I have not had a drop of sauce in over 7 years, not a single drop. I really feel to be the best racer ya can, ya have to be pretty clean. I know some people who sauce quite a bit and really, in my honest opinion, its hurting their racing. Sometimes it also hurts in coming back from an injury or a crash too. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get all hyper on caffeine and do/say bizarre stuff, its just when ya snap your back at 21 because sauce was involved, you kinda re evaluate why/how you sauce. Its not for me anymore. I ain’t gonna preach, but all you little groms out there listen up, to really kill it on the world cup, to be multi world champ, to make some bucks and to get the most outta your race career, stay sober, or at least leave the sauce until your legal, and ya got something to really celebrate, like a win. This goes for the local scenes too. The days of pure natural talent winning things for people is coming to a close, its gonna be the most professional rider that wins stuff in the near future. Just my ten cents worth folks………… Racing is racing, it can be fun, but its about performing at your best.

Does anything really scare Stacy Kohut?

Spiders and snakes, close minded people, and lost time.

Got any radical plans for the future that you can share with us?

Keep your eyes peeled for ‘Cripple Canevil’, the mainstream , in-theatres movie. It will happen, and everyone is gonna busta gut watchin it thats for sure!

Ever been tempted to dress up as an old guy and pretend to roll into a bowl by accident…..man, that would be funny.

That would rip! Just might have to slide that little scene into the movie.

Stacy, thanks so much for your time.

Seriously crew, thank you!. This website is seriously one of the best race sites in the world. Your passion for bikes is obvious, and well, its an honour to get a descent-world interview! I would really like to thank all those that make it possible for me to be me. Shout outs to, fox racing shox, sun rims, hayes brakes, troy lee designs, Oakley, vans, phil wood, maxxis tires, devil’s choice wheelbuilding, outletindustries.com, and of course anyone thats given me some coverage and/ or props!

Once again, thanks descent-world, keep killin' it like you always have!

 

Stacy Tweaked
Whistler 4X
Chillin' Whistler
 
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