THRILLS

Pistons in the wind: Those weary of the pigskin hoopla--dejected Niners fans and Montana maniacs, folks anxiously counting the days until spring training, ski bums and trainophiles--can still find adventure on a day like this. They can book a ride on the Budweiser Ski Train, the fine old institution that tunnels its way up to Winter Park on weekends. For $30 coach or $45 for the upscale club-car jaunt, you get a round trip up to the slopes, leaving Union Station at 7:15 a.m. and depositing you safely back in town around 6:15 p.m. And if you can't make it today, trips continue every Saturday and Sunday through April 3. Call 296-4754.

Monday January 31 Dust to dust: In response to the upswing of violent crime in Denver, a group of Tibetan monks will create a Wheel of Healing Sand Mandala at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., beginning today and continuing through February 6. An intricate mosaic, somewhat akin to a Native American sand painting (similarly constructed of tiny grains of colored sand), the mandala will be blessed upon completion and dumped solemnly into the South Platte--in a ceremony said to further spread its healing power. The museum is normally closed on Monday, but guests will be welcome at a 5:30 p.m. lecture by Barry Bryant, who's written a book about Tibetan mandalas; afterward, you'll be able to tour the Asian Art galleries and view the monks' work-in-progress. Viewing continues all week during regular museum hours; call 640-2793.

Tuesday February 1 Bull wrestling: Want to know the whole book on Michael Jordan--yep, the revered slam-dunking Nike-touter now interested in a career with the Chicago White Sox? Chicago Tribune basketball reporter Sam Smith--author of The Jordan Rules, a less-than-flattering account culled from a season spent tailing the Bulls--will be a luncheon guest at the Denver Press Club, kicking off the first in a series of Sports Beat programs. The fun begins at noon sharp at the club, located at 1330 Glenarm Pl. Lunch is $13 ($9 members); for highly recommended reservations call 571-5260.

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