Getting to Know Pinkbike Contestants Nicole Kennedy, Ben Wallace & Michaela Pacakova

Oct 15, 2020
by Sarah Moore  

PINKBIKE ACADEMY
PRESENTED BY SHIMANO


10 Riders. 2 Weeks. 1 Pro Contract + $25k






NICOLE KENNEDY


Describe yourself.

Nicole Kennedy: My name is Nicole Kennedy and I am a 27 year old from Golden Colorado. I love to be in the woods, the snow, the dirt, or just anywhere outside really. I enjoy riding my bike anywhere from a casual pedal to riding rock slabs and big jumps.

Where are you from and where do you live?

Nicole Kennedy: I grew up in the foothills of Colorado and now I currently live in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

What are some of the accomplishments that you're most proud of?

Nicole Kennedy: A few of the accomplishments I am most proud of revolve around the fact that riding my bike has helped me overcome some of my biggest challenges. This is not just related to my general riding and racing. I also used mountain biking as a tool for recovery from post concussion depression (this was a consequence of a traumatic brain injury whilst snowboarding). From there I started racing. I placed 1st and won the Overall in the Snowmass Enduro Series in 2018. Following this I placed top 10 in the Squamish Enduro in 2019. Then diving into some freeride terrain and tackling some big hits.



What were some of the highlights of the 2019 season for you?

Nicole Kennedy: Highlights of my 2019 season are:
- Riding multiple technical slab trails in Squamish BC
- Placing 9th in the Squamish Enduro. My first big enduro race, and with just 2 days to prepare after taking my partner's place due to injury
- Racing in the Hot On Your Heels Women's Enduro, as Wayne and Garth. Party On!
- Working my way up to the Crab Apple Hits jump line in the Whistler Bike Park
- Finishing the season with some desert free riding, big hits, and the "Semenuk drop" in Utah.

Do you have a full-time job? How do you pay for your racing habit?

Nicole Kennedy: I work full time in Mountain Operations. In the summer I build bike trails and in the winter months I work at the ski hill managing night operations. I also work in terrain park fabrication and maintenance and spend some time behind the stick of a snowcat.

How did you get into mountain biking?

Nicole Kennedy: I always loved riding bikes as a kid. We would go on cruisey rides as a family all the time. My uncle was a semi pro downhill racer which was a huge inspiration. I also loved listening to my dad's crazy stories about riding bikes in his younger days. No matter what hand-me-down or dumpster Frankenbike I had, I loved it and I was on the hunt for dirt. I moved to the Keystone Bike Park after high school to take a "year off" - my addiction had begun. After a few years of hard tail and beater bike thrashing I moved into my '94 Toyota Pickup to save for my first enduro bike. The rest is history.

What are your strengths?

Nicole Kennedy: I am Wonder Women. I would say my strength would be my ability to focus and tap into flow state. This helps me control my mindset going into a race stage, new line, or large feature.

What are your weaknesses?

Nicole Kennedy: I am always working on improving on all aspects of my riding and training. But I would say my weakness would be my bike mechanic knowledge and experience. I would love to get more hands on with working on my own bike.




Where is your favourite place to ride?

Nicole Kennedy: It's hard to choose one place to ride as my favorite. I love riding here in Squamish and Whistler but I must say nothing really compares to some good ol' desert riding in Utah.

Who are your favourite people to ride with?

Nicole Kennedy: My favorite people to ride with are people who want to ride bikes! If you see me out on the trail let's go for a rip! But I do love riding with the group of bike buds I have. All good people and good vibes.

What's been your worst crash over the years?

Nicole Kennedy: My worst crash on a bike was my first date with my partner. Already off on a good start. I was trying to keep up with him, then boom! On the ground with a broken collarbone and fork. Then off to the hospital.

Who's your favourite rider?

Nicole Kennedy: There are so many incredible riders out there but I would have to say my favorite riders are Tahnee Seagrave and Casey Brown.

What's your favourite motto or saying?

Nicole Kennedy: There are a number of favorite quotes I constantly tell myself. One that I often say when in doubt or anxious is "I can do all things", because you truly can do anything you set your mind to.

What annoys you?

Nicole Kennedy: Nothing... I am bulletproof. In all seriousness, I mainly just get annoyed with myself. When I have a goal I'm set on achieving and there comes a day when I just feel off I need to learn to be patient and take a step back, even though I know I can do it, it just has to be another day.




What makes you happy?

Nicole Kennedy: What makes me happy? I guess the thing that makes me the most happy is overcoming struggles and failures to achieve a goal I'm striving for. In that moment you really come to understand why you're doing what you're doing. Oh and obviously going really fast and flying through the air with my friends on a sunny day. Pure joy right there.

What's your favourite food?

Nicole Kennedy: My favorite food is the kind that grows from the ground and tastes fresh. Though I do enjoy some tortellini with garlic Italian bread and some olive oil.

What do you enjoy away from bikes?

Nicole Kennedy: When I'm not out riding I love to go hiking, camping, snowboarding, go for a swim, and I like to do some yoga and art. I also recently learned to sail so looking forward to doing more of that.

What's your favourite non-bike website?

Nicole Kennedy: I honestly don't think I have a favorite website.

Where can people follow you on social media?

Nicole Kennedy: If you would like to follow me on social media my Instagram account is @nicole.a.kennedy




BEN WALLACE


Describe yourself.

Ben Wallace: My name is Ben Wallace, I’m 20 years old and I’m a downhill mountain bike racer!

Where are you from and where do you live?

Ben Wallace: I’m from the OG North Shore! I’m currently living in Victoria on Vancouver Island.

What are some of the accomplishments that you're most proud of?

Ben Wallace: I would say I’m most proud of my first top ten at a World Cup back in 2018 at the La Bresse World Cup finals where I finished 7th in Junior. Qualifying 19th in my first Elite World Cup was crazy as well!




What were some of the highlights of the 2019 season for you?

Ben Wallace: Moving up to Elite World Cup racing was a super cool experience. Getting to race against guys you grew up watching is pretty unreal. Making it on Red Bull TV for the first time in Maribor was also definitely a highlight.

Do you have a full-time job? How do you pay for your racing habit?

Ben Wallace: I have done some part time work over the last few years but I am also a third-year student at the University of Victoria and so I have been focused on that for the last couple years. I’ve been lucky enough to have a really supportive family and sponsors.

How did you get into mountain biking?

Ben Wallace: I got into mountain biking because both my parents were super into it and it fully rubbed off on me. I always looked up to my dad and thought he was the coolest when he’d go for a ride. He was always shredding shuttle laps and bike park laps and that got me stoked to ride as a kid.

What are your strengths?

Ben Wallace: Racing in the wet, doing whips, having fun.




What are your weaknesses?

Ben Wallace: Choosing schoolwork over riding. It never happens…

Where is your favourite place to ride?

Ben Wallace: Mount Prevost

Who are your favourite people to ride with?

Ben Wallace: Either Forrest Riesco, Kendall Mclean or my non-racer buddies at home, they send.

What's been your worst crash over the years?

Ben Wallace: Probably riding Mt. Fromme after school one day when I was in high school. I went over the bars and landed face first into a rock and broke my nose and got 25 stitches in my face. That did not feel good.

Who's your favourite rider?

Ben Wallace: Amaury Pierron or Brandon Semenuk

What's your favourite motto or saying?

Ben Wallace: “If you ain’t first your last” – Ricky Bobby

What annoys you?

Ben Wallace: When people sit in the left lane and drive slowly. So frustrating.

What makes you happy?

Ben Wallace: Party trains with a good crew.

What's your favourite food?

Ben Wallace: I love some good Japanese or Thai food.

What do you enjoy away from bikes?

Ben Wallace: Watching sports, going fishing, hanging with the lads.




What's your favourite non-bike website?

Ben Wallace: NHL.com

Where can people follow you on social media?

Ben Wallace: @Ben_wallace7 for the Insta!




MICHAELA PACAKOVA



Describe yourself.

Michaela Pacakova: I am active, fun and friendly. My happiest place is to be with friends in a forest most likely riding bikes.

Where are you from and where do you live?

Michaela Pacakova: I am from Czech Republic, living in Whistler, BC since 2012

What are some of the accomplishments that you're most proud of?

Michaela Pacakova: Possibly getting on a plane and arriving in Canada, but being part of Trophy of Nations would be my proudest moment.




What were some of the highlights of the 2019 season for you?

Michaela Pacakova: Racing in Zermatt and Whistler EWS and Trophy of Nations.

Do you have a full-time job? How do you pay for your racing habit?

Michaela Pacakova: I work as a full time Ski patroller on Whistler Mountain during winter. In summer, I am trying to combine work and biking, having two part time jobs gives me some flexibility. I work in a local bike shop and as
carpenter labor on a construction site.

How did you get into mountain biking?

Michaela Pacakova: I have been riding bikes since I can walk thanks to my parents. I built my first hardtail at university and raced mountain bike orienteering. But I had no idea that bike park existed until I came to Canada.

What is something you believe that other people think is crazy?

Michaela Pacakova: I believe that we are not made out of sugar and any day is a great day to be outside.

What are your strengths?

Michaela Pacakova: I have a will and I don't give up.

What are your weaknesses?

Michaela Pacakova: My brother would say I am emotionally unstable.




Where is your favourite place to ride?

Michaela Pacakova: From Squamish to Pemberton.

Who are your favourite people to ride with?

Michaela Pacakova: My partner Tory, he challenges me on the uphill and downhill.

What's been your worst crash over the years?

Michaela Pacakova: Last stage at Canadian Enduro in Williams lake, OTB, some broken ribs and lots of scratches.

Who's your favourite rider?

Michaela Pacakova: Nino Schurter

What's your favourite motto or saying?

Michaela Pacakova: What does not kill you makes you stronger.

What annoys you?

Michaela Pacakova: Cigarette butts, litter.

What makes you happy?

Michaela Pacakova: Freedom while riding bikes and good laugh with friends.

What's your favourite food?

Michaela Pacakova: All of it.




What do you enjoy away from bikes?

Michaela Pacakova: Reading a good book, skiing, running.

What's your favourite non-bike website?

Michaela Pacakova: www.windy.com

Where can people follow you on social media?

Michaela Pacakova: Instagram: @m.pacakova
Facebook: Misa Pacakova


Official Location Partner of Pinkbike Academy @bikebigwhite

Huge thanks to the brands who made this show possible!
Shimano, Orbea, Fox Racing, Fox Factory, Big White, GoPro, Garmin,
Pro Bike Gear, Feedback Sports, Maxxis, Stan's NoTubes, Ride Concepts, and Trailforks.



63 Comments

  • 82 3
 I think this would have been a WAY cooler competition if all of the riders has zero prior sponsorship. Give some actual amateurs the chance to get some semi-pro support. So far the guys introduced include sponsored Wold-Cup pros and the other one is a red-bull athlete...
  • 6 1
 It's actually hard to find a good and ambitious rider who is, to use the medical terminology, naive to sponsorship. When I was involved in these matters many years ago numerous young, like teenage, riders who got on with big bike companies had already had shop sponsors or been sponsored for some related sport like BMX and skateboarding. The great ones were, even at a young age, obviously talented, with charisma and great personalities who were brilliant with the public, especially kids, and when they got serious, sponsorship just kind of happened. I was consistently amazed at this and used to mutter how I never would have sponsored myself at their age. The riders in this show are clearly coming to the sport a bit later but nevertheless, being awesome enough to be on the show they're awesome enough to have had support in the past. I will watch with considerable interest.
  • 3 1
 agree but in this case it should be a grom academy!
  • 3 0
 Wait, which one is the Red Bull athlete?
  • 1 0
 @RichardJBos: Addison was a RedBull Athlete for 5 years...
  • 1 0
 @steflund: Happily retired Razz
  • 30 0
 Nicole's hair is awesome!
  • 11 0
 Ever get it caught in your spokes? Asking for a friend.
  • 2 0
 Indeed !!!
  • 21 0
 @rtclark: Hey thanks! The answer to your question is no but I have had it caught in my brake and shifter levers, but had plenty of slack!
  • 2 10
flag hnoj (Oct 16, 2020 at 4:03) (Below Threshold)
 @3nkennedy3: Awesome hair indeed ! You may consider donating a bit of it for cancer patient wigs - if such a thing goes on in Canada. Anyway, good luck with the challenges !
  • 1 1
 @hnoj: Yes with hair like that Nicole could be a hero to many cancer patients.
Hair donation is a thing in Canada.
  • 26 2
 Ben seems like a bit of an outlier here. I'll be curious to see if his ego lets him be kind, compassionate and do well in the non-riding challenges.
  • 38 15
 Yeah I’m curious about him here. Also, his cockiness feels annoyingly staged.
  • 11 1
 yeah tons of great riders here and vlad has made at least one crack at a world cup with plans for more but thats a far cry from being able to qualify top 20 at a worldcup (i have faith king vlad will do it one day).

ben is also a friendly humble kid and its going to take a crazy set of manufactured reality show circumstances for him to not win this thing.
  • 24 1
 @dirtnapped: its a big joke you know...
  • 27 1
 @dirtnapped: how much more obvious of a joke did they need to make it?
  • 15 9
 100% convinced they staged Ben's ego. I'm enjoying it but peeps have to realize he's actually a humble dude in real life.
  • 4 0
 @me2menow: haha, it all seems semi staged. Considering Angeline raced ews and placed well, yet she cant assemble a bike properly? hmm. Could have been the pressure of the challenge but idk.
  • 6 40
flag b45her (Oct 15, 2020 at 23:35) (Below Threshold)
 @Albatrosse: doubt he has the correct sexual organs to win, if a woman doesn't win it will be a miracle in todays "equality" driven political climate.
  • 14 2
 @b45her: 47 year old male boomer? Yep, Checks out.
  • 2 1
 @nocheeseonlysteeze: being a great racer or mechanic are two different things. Most pro's just ride and don't care about parts and technicalities. Have you seen Loris explain what he wanted with his suspension to Jordi? If you haven't, I'm jealous. Watching that for the first time is one of the best things ever...
  • 9 0
 @ridealltheb1kes: @b45her While I agree with the sentiment on his post, 47 does not qualify for a boomer, he is generation x.

Now if you are just using boomer as a generic insult for us old folk then many apologies, please continue.
  • 2 0
 @Mac1987: I totally understand but downhill is different, you set up your bike for each race. In enduro you sometimes even have to repair mechanicals during the race
  • 1 0
 @dirtnapped: clearly staged but this is a reality TV show and that is one of the conventions.
  • 1 0
 @dirtnapped: at one point during a talking head, he said something along the lines of should I be the cocky guy.
  • 19 0
 Sooo let me get this straight, this is a competition between a group of relative amateurs and one WC elite/National team racer..? On paper it seems as though it would be like watching Mike Tyson fight a bunch of 12 year olds, not at the same time either
  • 10 1
 THey all have way more prior support than it seems, when you look into it. Ben is a WC racer with tons of support, the other guy who helped the girl is a sponsored RedBull athlete, just not in MTB... Even the women have success at elite level racing.
  • 37 1
 Being the point of it is to entertain viewers i think mike tyson fighting a bunch of 12 year olds isnt a bad thing id watch that for hours
  • 5 2
 @endurogan: That just made my night.
  • 2 0
 Have they established what kind of rider they are actually after? There are a lot of important riders who are supported as much for personality as talent, but winning races is kind of great too. I think it would be most fun to have a competition look for the next Wynn Masters.
  • 1 0
 @endurogan: I should have been more clear, (not all but) most 12 year olds are inherently shitty, I’d certainly like to watch Tyson kick the crap out of a few of them lol
  • 17 0
 Where is the profile for "alter ego Ben"???
  • 11 0
 Evil Ben Wallace
  • 1 0
 @chubby5000: The alter ego is Wen Ballace.
  • 17 1
 All work at Whistler and are sponsored racers... good job PB.
  • 12 2
 sponsored racers wouldn't be able to accept the bikes and gear from another company.
  • 6 0
 @peytodog: People don't get the difference between actual sponsored athletes and up and comers receiving discounts or free parts from companies it seems like.
  • 7 0
 The riders seem great but the “Survivor” format sucks black rubber donkey lung!
  • 8 0
 That is a hellova ponytail.
  • 3 0
 Watched this over breakfast this morning and listened to you guys talk about it on the podcast.
I’m in way too deep on Pinkbike since like 2003 or something.
Loved Mike Levy at the end of the podcast saying ‘pinkers’ right at end too!
  • 6 0
 Auto-DQ for Ben's thigh gap photo. Wink
  • 6 1
 This comp is so cool! What a great opportunity to showcase bike skills
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike: "There are so many incredible enduro riders out there struggling to break through on their skill and potential alone. We want to change that." Are these the struggling riders? haha
  • 2 0
 I guess the photo of Ben with a smaller head than the two ladies wasn’t fully convincing...
  • 2 0
 I think we've all decided on who we want to win
  • 4 1
 Golden, CO represent!
  • 2 0
 LOVE Michaela's comment about her weakness!!!!
  • 3 0
 Make them do trials.
  • 1 0
 PB needs to put their money where their mouths are talking about diversity in mtb.
  • 9 9
 Even though ben seems like the best rider I still want him to win, he seems like a cool guy in person.
  • 1 0
 i can't lie, so jelaus about these guys!!
  • 1 0
 Ben Wallace, any relation to Mark Wallace?
  • 13 0
 No, christopher wallace.
  • 2 0
 Cousin of Wallace & Gromit
  • 3 0
 @makripper: Thats a big relation.
  • 1 0
 Mike Wallace BC Cup superstar
  • 2 2
 I wonder if they are trying to establish Ben as the antagonist of the reality show or he is really like that.
  • 9 0
 he's joking. he's a super cool guy
  • 1 0
 Believe me. like he said ben is gonna win easy
  • 2 0
 Misha jedeéééém!
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