Department of Tourism
International Sports Make Kentucky Home
FRANKFORT, KY. – Typically horses are responsible for landing Kentucky in the international sports spotlight. This summer, however, the Bluegrass State will serve as the perfect host for several very distinct top athletic competitions with zero connections to anything equine and that attract crowds of spectators.
Top cyclists, sporting-clay shooters and wakeboarders from throughout the U.S. and abroad will converge on three Kentucky venues in June and July to vie for championships that are at the highest level of international competition in their respective sports. The three sports are among the world’s fastest growing and popular recreational activities.
The events are expected to attract substantial numbers of fans and spectators as athletes compete at very different venues. The majestic Red River Gorge area, Owenton and Elizabethtown will transform into buzzing hubs of international cycling, clay pigeon shooting and wakeboarding – sports not immediately associated with Kentucky.
“Kentucky may not automatically pop to mind as a site for these sports,” said Mike Cooper, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Travel. “These are world class events and we’re ready to roll out the welcome mat to visitors who want to watch top notch competitors in beautiful areas of the state. Of course we love our horses but we’re so much more.”
Cycling Through Gorge Combines Grueling Competitions with Kick-off Fun Ride
The 2009 Tour of the Red River Gorge team cycling competitions June 19-21 and July 13-19 will set various courses for amateurs and elite contestants. Route options range from 35 to 104 miles in length and travel through six counties. All total, about 1,000 riders will zip through set courses between Lexington, Stanton, Beattyville, Clay City, Winchester and other towns in east-central Kentucky. A family fun ride for all levels of ability kicks off the series and is expected to attract about 400 riders on low traffic, supported routes. A classic race for adult amateurs is a three event omnium from June 19-21. The July races include two grueling courses for elite juniors, one of which is an invitational qualifier for Union Cycliste Internationale championships and the other is part of the Lance Armstrong Junior Race series.
They Shoot Clay Pigeons, Don’t They?
The 2009 U.S. Open Sporting Clay Championships comes to Kentucky for the first time at the Elk Creek Hunt Club in Owenton on June 23-28. The event, located smack in the middle of a pastoral area of Kentucky’s “Golden Triangle,” is the second largest competition in the U.S. for sporting clay shooters who blast clay targets hurled through the air. Nearly 1,000 shotgun aficionados from every state in the country and several foreign countries will compete on three shooting courses which spread over the club’s 1,000 acres of picturesque countryside located between Covington, Frankfort and Louisville.
The hunt club opened in 1998 and is adjacent to Elk Creek Winery, a popular draw in an equally picturesque setting known for award winning wines and summer concerts. Organizers have arranged accommodation packages at nearby Belterra Casino Resort & Spa and other spots around the major airports.
Wakeboarding Event is Opportunity to Run for Tour Title
The MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour participants will fly through the air and create sizable wakes when competitors test the waters at Freeman Lake in Elizabethtown July 18-19. Fifty top professionals will compete in what may best be described as a cross between water skiing and snow boarding on the 170-acre lake. One arena in a five-stop series, the riders will battle for cash, points and bragging rights by performing rail tricks and aerial stunts while moving at speeds of about 25 mph. Riders will vie for enough points to advance to be in the running for tour title.
The tour has a carnival-like atmosphere that’s complete with food, music and shopping. Thousands of visitors from Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Nashville and beyond are expected to watch wakeboarders vie in this popular sport.
You can find more information and contacts about the events, lodging and dining at the following Web sites: www.tour-rrg.com, www.touretown.com/wakeboardtour, www.elkcreekhuntclub.com. The department Web site at www.kytourism.com has additional suggestions and information for destinations that may add to the sporting experiences.
The Kentucky Department of Travel, an agency of the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy