All aboard for the season's first trip on the Ski Train, "a Denver tradition for generations," as general manager Jim Bain points out. And since that first generation of Eskimos rode up to Winter Park -- this city's own ski resort -- the train has grown some, too. Accommodations are much more cushy, the bar cars sell return-trip drinks (you can toast the traffic jams you're avoiding), and the entire operation is now owned by Phil Anschutz, who keeps the train running on time. (Very: It leaves Union Station at 7:15 a.m. sharp for the two-hour-plus trip and departs Winter Park precisely at 4:15 p.m.) Santa will be along for the ride today and tomorrow, but from December 27 to 29, and once the regular Saturday-Sunday schedule kicks in January 8, the main draw is the train ride itself. And the scenery, of course. "When you come out on the other end of Moffat Tunnel, it's like you've landed," Bain says. "You never know what the weather's going to be like. And then, bam, it's a surprise."
Round-trip fare is $44, down a buck from last year (another welcome surprise). For information and reservations, call 303-296-4754 or go to www.skitrain.com. -- Patricia Calhoun
Extreme Expo FRI, 12/17
If the sugarplums dancing in your head have been tweaked for maximum torque and are shaped more like a Suzuki Hayabusa than a squishy saccharine fruit, then roll directly to the 24th Annual Cycle World International Motorcycle Show at the Colorado Convention Center.
"Leave the grind behind" is the moto motto of this event, which showcases hordes of dream machines from various manufacturers. Also on view several times daily is the "Ball of Steel Stunt Show," which features three extreme riders performing synchronized stunts and back flips inside a sixteen-foot-diameter steel globe.
The show gets in gear from 4 to 9 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for kids, and free for those ages five and under. The convention center is at 700 14th Street. For a complete schedule and show information, call 303-228-8239 or log on to http://show.motorcycleshows.com. -- Kity Ironton
Riding High Boarding's best meet in Breck FRI, 12/17
The road to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy begins in Breckenridge with today's 2004-2005 Chevrolet U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix. Some of the nation's best riders will be racing, tearing it up in the pipe and sticking it to a new rail park over the weekend -- not to mention partying the night away.
At stake is more than $50,000 in cash prizes (awarded in sums as large as $10,000), plus an opportunity to qualify for up to twenty spots on the 2006 Olympic team. Spectators can check out the action in Breck's Freeway Terrain Park.
Qualifying heats for men and women for the eighteen-foot superpipe begin tomorrow at 8 a.m.; later, during the evening hours, the attention shifts to downtown Breckenridge for night rail riding (without the fear of being arrested) on a custom platform designed to mimic urban terrain.
Participation in the rail riding is by invitation only, for about twenty of the nation's primo rail sliders -- but anyone can watch. Daytime and nighttime activities continue through Monday, December 20. For information, call 1-970-453-5000 or go to www.breckenridge.com. -- Luke Turf