Rising Ohio River Forces Changes to Cyclo-Cross World Championship Schedule

Andy KontyCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

That Dutch kid put his finger in a dike to stop a flood, but these men put up a dike in less than 24 hours.
That Dutch kid put his finger in a dike to stop a flood, but these men put up a dike in less than 24 hours.

 A couple of hours ago, the UCI sent out a press release announcing a change to the racing schedule for the Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

Here’s the reason:

Forecast data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) project that high water levels in the Ohio River will cause Beargrass Creek to flood the low lying areas of Eva Bandman Park in Louisville, Ky, in the early hours on Sunday morning and that water level will continue to rise for the next 48 hours. 

As a result of this forecast, the UCI decided to reschedule the Sunday races for Saturday.  Racing begins on Saturday with the Men Juniors at 9:45 a.m. (ET), Elite Women at 11:00 a.m., Men U23 at 12:30 p.m. and Elite Men at 2:30 p.m. 

The UCI will honor all Sunday tickets on Saturday.

We've received a lot of precipitation in the Ohio Valley over the past couple of weeks, and all of that water is now hitting the Ohio River.  The track is adjacent to the Ohio River, but it is even closer to Beargrass Creek, which enters the Ohio River about 50 meters from the creek's closest point to the course (see map).  

I saw them sandbagging along the creek Thursday.  I'm headed out there now to check it out.

Later today, look for an update on the race, an article on yesterday's press conference with the U.S. "Dream Team," an interview with the director of the Louisville Sports Commission and, of course, all of the race results on Saturday.



Friday was sunny with bright blue skies, and the temperature never topped 25. The snow from the previous night melted and continued to swell Beargrass Creek.

Local crews from the Metro Sewer District did yeoman's work to save the low side of the course from inundation. The burly men in safety-orange vests, flannel hoodies and white hardhats contrasted sharply with the shorter and skinnier 'cross crowd sporting the latest hi-tech winter gear.

Even so, 'cross fans and media snapped pictures, thanked every Metro Sewer District employee that came within earshot, and did their best to stay out of the way of the men meaning the business.  

The respect was reciprocated as I heard a group of the crew moving sandbags chatting about how cool it was that the racers doing the practice laps were "the best in the world."  One fella thought out loud to his 'mates: "I wonder which one is the current champion."  

The big Americans, my peeps, were giving props to the athletes around them while themselves putting a monster effort into having the course ready for the world championships the next day.

I'm still wondering how Louisville managed to land this event ahead of other 'cross cities like Portland or Vegas, but when the event comes back we will all know a big reason why.  The city of Louisville and the metro council are determined to make sure that other prestigious events in the future understand what they're getting when they bring their games to Louisville.

All of the City and Metro folks deserve a big "'preciate it" from the UCI, US Cycling, the racers, their entourages, the media and particularly the citizens of the Louisville metro area.

Even if you were inconvenienced by road closures and people with accents, you can rest assured that the best possible face was put on Louisville this weekend and the entire community should take some serious pride in that.