As Lyons prepares for the first Outdoor Games since the September flood, organizers are focused on putting on a great show. And for the 12-year-old event that means kayaking.
If you go
What: Lyons Outdoor Games
When: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bohn Park, Lyons
More info: visit http://lyonsoutdoors.com
Organizers announced in April that the games would be held and that the featured event would be a Denver-based BMX team after the flood created new obstacles for the festival's flagship sport of kayaking.
Murky water and debris created by the flood forced organizers and town officials to reevaluate safety procedures that would protect the whitewater athletes.
At the end of April, the town's Board of Trustees approved a plan that would increase safety for kayakers and allow professional kayaking events at this year's games.
Lizzy Scully, festival organizer and Lyons resident, said she is "99 percent sure that the kayaking events will happen, unless something crazy happens this week that messes with the runoff."
The plan includes several new safety measures, including scouting the courses for debris before the events, spotters that will watch for debris during the events and additional security to keep spectators from entering the water.
Professional slalom kayaking, boater cross and freestyle events will be held Saturday in Black Bear Hole and a 200-yard section of the river upstream from the Second Avenue Bridge. Preliminaries will be held Friday. No novice or junior events will be held this year.
Lyons resident Kevin Parker, who organizes the whitewater events, said he is not worried about the athletes' safety because they already have the proper training and experience to handle the situations that may arise.
"The kayakers are people who do this as a profession or main sport or hobby," Parker said. "This is not any more dangerous than the runs they're already doing."
Parker said the river may even be safer this year than last year because the area drainages have been cleared following the flood, which is not typical annual maintenance.
Dave Cosgrove, director of Lyons Parks and Recreation Department, said the parks lining the river will remain closed while flood damage is repaired and town officials are asking people to stay out of the water for the remainder of the spring and summer.
"This is a one-day thing, specifically for the outdoor games," Cosgrove said. "We are discouraging anyone from tubing, swimming, rafting or kayaking."
Despite the limited whitewater events, Parker said it was worth the extra time and efforts of organizers to ensure that the tradition of kayaking continues at this year's games.
"The Lyons Outdoor Games originally started as a whitewater event to raise money for Parks and Rec to build those whitewater features, Parker said. "It's the origination of the games and we're keeping that tradition alive."
Contact Times-Call community reporter Whitney Bryen at 303-684-5274 or email@example.com