Sports » Features

The stuntman has left the arena


By Ben Smailes,

Canmore Leader

Stacy Kohut is taking down his Evil Knievel poster. The world-famous image of the man and his motorcycle that once hung proudly on Kohut’s living-room wall "an ode to the ultimate stunt" is being packed away.

Kohut’s also breaking down his sit ski setup, folding up his four-wheel downhill mountain bike machine and putting his assortment of Paralympic and World Championship medals into cardboard boxes. They’re being packed away too, and crammed with the rest of his possessions into his mini van.

One of the Bow Valley’s most renowned disabled athletes and excessive stuntmen, Kohut is leaving town.

"I’m going somewhere where I can find a job," he says, resigned in his wheelchair but as animated as ever from his soon to-be-vacated two-bedroom Canmore apartment.

After eight years living and training in the Bow Valley the 31-year-old Paralympic sit skier and champion four-wheel mountain biker is uprooting to Whistler, B.C. He left via the Trans Canada Highway with a convoy of professional bikers and cycle mechanics on May 1.

Kohut says an opportunity to work with other disabled athletes and adrenaline junkies as well as less rigid restrictions on mountain biking is what’s wooing him west.

He plans to work with the Whistler Adaptive Ski Program next winter and is excited about the mountain resort’s bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Whistler is enhancing its disabled alpine program partly because of the resort town’s desire to fly the Olympic rings. But ultimately Whistler promises what Kohut says the Bow Valley can only stall him on.

"The direction’s not the same," he says.

"Growing up as a kid in Calgary, even from the time I arrived (in the Bow Valley) in 1994 until now, the direction has changed so many times that I can’t with confidence say that (the Bow Valley’s) going in the right direction for Stacy Kohut.

"For me it’s got to be recreation-based and it’s got to be resort-based because my whole life, besides being an athlete, is (about) being truly dedicated to getting more people in wheelchairs as active as possible.

"That’s what’s taking me to Whistler. Not only for an athletic career, but a post-athletic career too. There is no disabled program around here that wants to even begin talking so it’s a chance for me to work and I got to do it."

Taming the evil in the Knievel

Kohut celebrates two birthdays. He was born on Oct. 15, 1970 a healthy baby boy to his parents, Maureen and Don Kohut, in Calgary.