Seats were packed at Saturday night’s UCI 2017 BMX World Championships as York County residents took advantage of free admission for the final day of races.
Some York County residents had never seen BMX racing before.
“I wanted to see what they’ve been doing all week,” Judi Harper of Rock Hill said.
Harper and husband Rick came to the Novant Health BMX Supercross Track to watch the final races of the elite rider group.
“It’s our first day here,” Harper said. “It cooled down and they told us we could get in for free.”
Aimee Moreno came from Cambridge, Mass., to watch the BMX World Championships. Moreno said that she and her sister, who lives in Fort Mill, heard about the event a year ago and immediately made plans to go.
“It’s great to hear so many languages spoken in Fort Mill and Rock Hill,” she said.
York County residents, like Alison Mallard, have also been volunteering at the championships – covering about 1,000 volunteer shifts.
Mallard has been helping plan the championships since 2015 on the local organizing committee.
She said she’s been able to see visitors from all over the world interact and riders from different countries make friends.
“That’s kind of what it’s all about,” Mallard said.
She said the event relied heavily on the amount of work the city staff has put in over the last three years, along with local volunteers.
“This community always steps up,” Mallard said.
Medical team on hand
Eric Warren, chief medical officer for the championships, said the medical team has been preparing for months.
Novant Health sponsored the event, and Warren said Piedmont Medical Center and Carolinas HealthCare provided support as well.
“All the agencies have come together to cover all 3,700 riders,” Warren said.
Warren said the medical team has treated many injuries over the past week, ranging from superficial to life-threatening. He said the team has transported more than 10 athletes to the hospital for life-threatening injuries.
All riders brought to the hospital have been discharged, Warren said.
The site has access to five ambulances and two All Terrain Vehicles, as well as a landing pad, Warren said.
Many visitors complained of the heat, but Warren said the heat on the track itself got up to 136 degrees.
Though the medical team is used to working in heat, “the degree of heat on the track itself has surprised us,” Warren said.
The team had to change staff rotations, and give IV fluids to several staff members the first day.
‘Finally giving out trophies’
David Vehaun, Rock Hill city manager, said the city staff has been preparing for the BMX World Championships for three years.
“Getting to tonight was really the big goal we’ve had all along,” he said Saturday.
Vehaun said the last day was free for York County residents to encourage them to come out and watch elite BMX racing.
“And boy, York County took us to heart,” he said.
Grandstands and parking lots at the track were packed tighter than ever, and Vehaun said city staff had to meet to talk about how many people could safely fit inside at one time – about 7,000.
“That’s what we around here call a good problem,” he said.
Hannah Smoot: 803-329-4068