Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
If you've ever sat on a hillside and wondered what the land you survey looked like one hundred years ago, imagine what visions came to DMNS paleontologist Kirk Johnson and a trio of seasoned paleoartists when they looked over the local landscape. Actually, you don't have to: Johnson and company took the initiative last year and created Ancient Denvers, an exhibit and accompanying coffee-table book that feature scientifically correct images of Front Range locales as they probably appeared during various periods over the last 300 million years. Some of our most familiar geological landmarks of today -- including Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods and the Dakota Hogback -- were given the way-back treatment with brilliant results, but who'da thunk their back yard might ever have been a dank, disgusting swamp to rival the one surrounding the outlands of Mordor? Truth can be stranger than fiction.
Homer Simpson's buffoonery, Bart's pre-pubescent anarchism and the precocious wisdom of his little sister Lisa have all ripened into beloved cultural institutions, but Matt Groening's wisecracking burlesque of American family life has its way with the world beyond Springfield, too. In the much-heralded 300th episode, broadcast in February, Fox viewers beheld a cartoon version of Frankenstein's monster, lunk-headed and zipper-necked, staggering down the length of a basketball court and trying without much success to stick the ball in the hoop. The big guy's explanation for his obvious incompetence rang a local bell. Said he: "Me made of Denver Nuggets corpses."
It may not be everybody's idea of a sporting good time, but someone's got to be best in the world, and Evergreen's Dennis Hastings is going nowhere faster than anyone else his age. Last year, he successfully defended his title as the world's best indoor stationary rower, lightweight division, in the 50- to 59-year-old age group. In November, he was winner of his division in the British Indoor Rowing Championships.
We're a poorer state for it, but alas, Colorado isn't usually associated with the bikini sports. That's changing, thanks to the improbable emergence of Highlands Ranch native Emily Copeland, who, despite her landlocked upbringing, has become the country's best female wakeboarder. All of eighteen years old, Copeland has been competing nationally since she was fifteen. She started dominating the circuit in 2001, when she won the Vans Triple Crown Championship and ended the year ranked number one in the country. She finished first in the 2002 Gravity Games and Masters Tournament and won the gold medal in wakeboarding at the 2002 X Games before a late-season injury put her out of commission. Look for her to dominate again this summer.
Best Sporting Club You¹ve Never Heard OfHusband and wife snorkeler/stick-handlers Chris and Agnes DeBrunner of Conifer started DUH in 1993 after moving to Denver from Illinois, where Agnes's brother introduced her to the game. "It was a different game then," recalls Agnes. "More like a holding-your-breath contest." Today, thanks to modern gear like snorkels, fins and spatula-sized sticks, the game is played at the speed of, well, pushing around a weighted puck underwater. From above, a game can look like a group of very pale piranhas attacking a pancake. But, says Agnes, "It's good exercise -- I hate swimming laps -- and it's fun." The club, which boasts a mix of ice hockey and Ultimate Frisbee players, meets at the pool at Lakewood's Carmody Recreation Complex.
It's been a tough year for the furry crowd: Howler got bounced by the Avs; Rocky -- (or at least the human force inside him) -- ran into legal trouble; Dinger seems like the slow little brother of Barney; and the Broncos' Miles
appears to be spooked by the four-hooved equine that prances along the sidelines. But one of the hairiest mascots anywhere has lumbered into town and is making a big impression. Especially when he sits on fans' laps. Woolly, mascot for the pro lacrosse Colorado Mammoth, is a brown Mam-scot complete with tusks. And while some might believe he's headed for extinction, this most recent addition to the Pepsi zoo seems alive and well.
Since the retirement of John Elway and the untimely demise of Terrell Davis, the Denver Broncos have been an offensive shambles,
barely getting a sniff at the playoffs. Enter Clinton Portis, a super-quick rookie running back from the University of Miami who, after an early-season bout of fumbleitis, collected 1,508 yards (fourth best in the NFL), fifteen touchdowns and a lock on the Broncos' disputed starting spot. At 5-11 and 205 pounds, Portis has the size to be durable, and his moves are astonishing. His pairing in the backfield with new quarterback Jake Plummer should be good news: A dramatically improved passing game (keep your fingers crossed, Broncomaniacs) usually means fewer bloodthirsty linebackers in the face of a good ball carrier. As for the new QB, that $40 million contract probably dictates a change of nickname from "Jake the Snake" to "Liquid Plummer."
The brain trust at Coors Field changes players faster than pit crews swap tires at a NASCAR race. Their frenzy leaves only first baseman Todd Helton as the rock upon which Rockies hope is built. There couldn't be a better one: Helton's a three-time All-Star who won the National League batting crown in 2000 (with a .372 average), and he's turned into one of the best defensive first basemen in the game. Not only that, but his work ethic is unimpeachable, even when the Rox start another inevitable August slide toward the NL West cellar. If he doesn't inspire the newcomers, no one will. Now heading into his sixth big-league season, the former University of Tennessee quarterback has signed with Colorado through 2011, and that's a good thing: Every hapless team needs a pillar of stability.