Stacy Kohut Interview | Who Says You Need Working Legs to Go Mountain Biking?
Stacy Kohut is paralysed from the waist down, but kills it in Whistler bike park...
For many mountain bikers, an accident which left them paralysed from the waist down would end their careers. But for Stacy Kohut, it marked the beginning of a new adventure. Stacy broke his back in 1992 at the age of just 21. But he refused to be stopped, and quickly set about finding another outlet for his riding talents - developing this awesome-looking four wheeled mountain bike and the sport of fourwheeling.
“The bike handles very well but must be treated with real respect, ‘cause it can bite you bad."
A fixture around the bike parks near his home base in Whistler, Canada, Stacy has put out videos which have racked up millions of views and inspired people around the world with his silky smooth riding skills. This latest video, put together by his regular filming partner Chris Ricci of Influx productions, tells his story.
“I've been watching Stacy ever since I was twelve years old," says Ricci. “I followed him throughout all of his New World Disorder sections, and would watch them on replay. I'd always see him in the lineup in Whistler, and one day I decided to approach him and see if he'd be interested in filming with me. He was super friendly and keen to make something happen."
“Our first video proved that Stacy is incredible on the fourwheel bike which was what we set out to do. This time around, we really wanted to show Stacy's personality and share his story. Stacy is really opinionated and doesn't follow any type of stereotype, and I think that comes across when you hear him talk."
While he’s great in interviews and obviously a sick rider, filming with Stacy presents its own particular challenges, according to Chris. “Although they ride the same trails as mountain bikes, filming fourwheel is completely different. New angles, different trail features, different tricks and different subtleties.
“The most challenging aspect is that Stacy cannot push back up the hill. If you miss a shot, you have to go all the way down to the bottom of the mountain and come back up again. Retakes are very costly, so it's important to nail every shot in the first attempt on both sides of the lens."
For his part, Stacy’s ride is far from straightforward. His many years of fourwheeling means the Canadian makes it look easy, but talk to him about how it works, and it sounds anything but: “The bike handles very well but must be treated with real respect, ‘cause it can bite you bad," he says. The controls are also more complex than those on a conventional bike - when you’re braking you’re braking two back wheels or two front ones at once.
“The right lever is for both rear brakes at once, left lever is for both front brakes at once." But, he adds “The cockpit fits me like a glove, so moving the bike in the air is achieved with minimal movement in the seat. [And] the low seating position allows the fourwheeler to be tossed around like a two wheeled bike. [It’s] tons of fun!"
Stacy certainly looks like he’s having fun. Watching the footage of him ride is enough to make us want to have a go. So what’s next for the irrepressible fun-loving Canadian? “You really never do stop learning new methods and tricks of the trade. I just wanna take gravity powered fourwheeling to a new level every season I ride," he says. “Push the bar as high as I can." With riding like that, and filmers like Ricci, we reckon the only way for Stacy is up.
Stacy would like to thank his sponsors: Stik/Troy at TLD, The Oakley Canada crew, Maxxis and the NRG peeps, Scott at Sun and Hayes, Leroy and the Phil Wood posse, Stefan and the Vans Canada group, Richard at Ergogenics, everybody from Fox Shox, James and the shop crew from Suspension Werx, Andrew from Maxima, Rob and Crystal from Intuition Liners, James at The Fix Inc, Chris and Pete from North Shore Billet (NSB), Robby from FSW, Fraser and Stokesy from Lift Ops, and of course my friends and family. Also, thank you to all the people of ALL ages who respect and get what I'm all about... It does mean the world to me.