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SPORTS & RECREATION

Best Vendor Outside Coors Field
Freddy's Peanuts
Northwest corner of 20th and Blake streets

Freddy Garcia, who sets up shop at a prime location catty-corner from the stadium, is one of the regulars. And like many of Coors Field's street-corner entrepreneurs, he mainly traffics in the lowly legume that is a ballpark mainstay. But his stand also goes upscale and down south with bags of pistachios and pinon nuts. Does he sell them for peanuts? Let's just say you'll pay Freddy a lot less for your goober pile than you will inside.

Readers' choice: Burrito lady at 20th and Blake

Best 10th Inning Stretch
El Chapultepec
1962 Market St.

Blake and Market streets are now lined with baseball-themed saloons (some of which won't survive the current season), but there's still only one 'Pec. Jerry Krantz's glorious hole in the wall has been around half a century and has featured pretty fair burritos, cold beer and great local jazz for twenty years. Think he'll change a thing because Coors Field is right across the street? Don't bet on it. "I got the only place they see the sign when they come out the ballpark," Krantz reports with a gleam in his eye. True. And he'll still be there when the Rox win the Series.

Best Local Sports Tome
Hardwood Gold: The Rise & Fall...and Rise of the Denver Nuggets
Mike Monroe

It seems like much more than a year ago that the Nuggets rose up and bit the league-best Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs and came within a game of knocking off Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz. Since then the team has gone through two coaches, lost LaPhonso Ellis to injury and fallen back on hard times. Mike Monroe, a veteran Denver Post sportswriter who's been covering the Nuggets for eleven seasons, follows the entire ABA/NBA history of the club from laughingstock to Cinderella, employing his customary precise prose and lots of nostalgic pictures. The introduction by Dan Issel is an instant antique, of course. But that's the way the ball bounces.

Best Ski Book for Women
WomenSki
Claudia Carbone

Colorado native Claudia Carbone, who's been skiing since the '50s, was disturbed to learn that many women skiers are easily discouraged and quit after an average of two years of going downhill. In an effort to understand those statistics, Carbone went out and got answers--drawing from questionnaires, interviews and discussions with women skiers and experts in several ski-related disciplines. The resulting book not only explores reasons why women quit--biological and mental factors, insensitive instructors and poorly designed equipment--but also offers workable, no-nonsense solutions to help get them back on the slopes.

Best Bowling
Limon Lanes, Limon
Too often, bowling involves fighting crowds for an alley in some industrial-sized building where league nights seem perpetual. For a trip down memory lanes, drive east on I-70 to Limon. It's a haul, but the six pristine and uncrowded Limon Lanes are well worth it. Drink Budweiser from plastic cups. Spend the evening throwing strikes next to a Plains family of buzz-cut kids.

Best Hidden Treasure
Manitou Grand Caverns
Serpentine Drive Highway, north of Manitou Springs

Discovered in 1881 by prospector George W. Snider, Manitou Grand Caverns soon overshadowed in popularity the neighboring Cave of the Winds as a Victorian-age tourist attraction. But time marches on: When the Cave of the Winds was strung with lights in 1907, it was curtains for the unlit Grand Caverns, which were closed down and languished unvisited for decades. Falling victim to flooding and neglect, the former tour route, blocked by debris, is now lost. In recent years, though, cavers from the National Speleological Society have worked to uncover new passages through Manitou's extensive and still not fully explored grottos, installing new stairs and pathways. As a result, the caverns reopened this summer for spooky candlelit public tours given by guides in period costumes and focusing on history. Call ahead; rain this spring left the caves pretty soggy.

Best Spelunker
Marc Hament
Take Marc Hament to the edge and he'll know exactly what to do. An adventurer from head to foot, he's been a high-country Jeep tour guide, photographer and firefighter. But ten years ago he went underground, and now "Caveman" Hament--as he's known these days--has taken the wheel of the Manitou Grand Caverns project, overseeing redevelopment, training guides and ensuring safety and an uncommercial atmosphere for all who enter the pitch-black, unelectrified chambers. Where was this man when they decided to put up lights at Wrigley Field?

Best Racing Greyhound
Arjo Penn
This two-year-old flash from the Linda Blanch Kennel broke in last year at Mile High Kennel Club and, in 78 career starts to date, has won 33 races, finished second ten times and gotten the show money sixteen times. This past winter, the white, ticked and brindle son of Bold and Brazen and Arjo Pennyheart won the Interstate Kennel Club Juvenile Classic and the Cloverleaf Inaugural. At Mile High's summer meet, he's again showing his versatility--running sprints and route races against the top "A" dogs on the grounds.

Best Arapahoe Park Thoroughbred
Darrell Darrell
Last year, the then-seven-year-old son of Boca Rio by Harry's Queen upset a couple of respected California shippers to win the $100,000 Arapahoe Park Sprint, and he's back in the barn this season for owner Jean Dillard. Some bigger names--Let the Big Hoss Roll and Shoot the Jukebox--may invade from Hollywood Park this year, but at this writing, the hard-knocking sprinter with the repeating name boasted nineteen wins, twelve seconds and four third-place finishes in 42 career starts and had won $482,877. You don't often see that kind of quality on the prairies of Aurora.

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