April 29: The Lyons Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive Safety Plan developed by kayaking event organizers to allow the kayaking events to be held on a stretch of the St. Vrain River for the Lyons Outdoor Games for one day only.
According to Lyons Parks & Rec Director Dave Cosgrove, Town Trustees felt the plan developed by local kayakers was sufficient to ensure the safety of kayakers during the Games. So, they approved one-day use, in a controlled area, and only for experienced kayakers.
“The overriding policy for the Town is that its discouraging anyone from getting in the river at all,” Cosgrove Stated. “But since we’re going to have so many protective measures implemented on site, we are able to facilitate the event for one day.”
The primary concerns Trustees had were that sediment and murky water could prevent people from seeing hazards and that flood debris could float into the course and pose potential hazards for competitors, as the bulk of whitewater kayaking in Colorado takes place during the spring runoff. However, stated Scott Young, a kayaker and one of the plan’s key authors, the areas used during the event will be scoured for debris that may be hidden in the water. And, while they expect more debris than in previous years, he added, “We are confident that we can mitigate the risk using the steps listed in our Safety Plan.”
Safety measures include, but are not limited to, teams scouting upstream of and through the course areas to mitigate all potential hazards; spotters stationed upstream of the event to watch for floating debris; pre-event meetings with competitors to discuss river conditions and review communication/action procedures for clearing the course in the event of oncoming debris. (Click here to read the full report.)
“If event organizers feel that the level of debris flow creates an unacceptable safety risk, then the event will be canceled,” Young added. Scott Shipley, a Lyons local and owner of S2O Engineering will make the final call on river safety.
“We’re ready to expect the unexpected,” Shipley stated. “A lot of things went into that river over the course of the flood, everything from I beams to houses to trees. We just want to be sure on an ongoing basis throughout that event that it’s safe. It something we very much want to be reactive to.” However, he added, the only boaters allowed in the river will be professionals who “live the river lifestyle and understand the dangers of the river.”
“Our expectation is that this event will be 100 percent safe because of the Safety Plan and the expertise of boaters attending,” Shipley added. “People should plan on coming out to watch the event. And if you’re a competition level kayaker, plan on boating. At the end of the day, if the situation becomes dangerous, there’s a lot of other events going on at the Lyons Outdoor Games that people can enjoy.”
The pro kayaking events—Boater Cross, Freestyle, and Slalom—will be held at the Black Bear Bridge, which sustained minimal damage.
- The Boater Cross event is a team relay event (four persons per team) that includes a short on-land obstacle course followed by a short downstream paddle of 100-150 yards, beginning just below the 2ndAvenue Bridge on river right (looking downstream), going through the Black Bear and A-hole, with the finish in the eddy on river right at the base of the A-Hole feature.
- Freestyle is an event in which kayakers perform advanced play moves in a single feature (The Black Bear and/ or A-Hole) for a specific period of time. There are multiple heats that eliminate competitors based on cumulative points scored for tricks completed.
- The Slalom Race is an Olympic Event where kayakers navigate through a series of slalom gates over a short stretch of the river for time. Lyons has become one of the premier training centers for slalom canoe and kayak racing in the United States. Many in the racing community have expressed keen interest in showing their ongoing support as Lyons continues to rebuild following the flood. A safe slalom race could likely be held on the same stretch of river as the Boater Cross and the Freestyle
Local kayakers created the Lyons Outdoor Games to bring world class athletes to its famed White Water Park to compete in freestyle, downriver, and slalom events as early as 2001. Since its inception, it has steadily expanded to include dozens of other events, from dog events and running races to BMX biking, dirt jumping, and the Oskar Blues Burning Can Beer Festival. This year’s festival will include kayaking, Outlaws of Dirt BMX/MTB Dirt Jump Comp, a Gibbons Slackline competition, and more. For more information, please visit:www.lyonsoutdoorgames.com