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Best Of 2010

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Coach ? College

In sixteen seasons as head coach of the University of Denver Pioneers hockey team, George Gwozdecky has done what he came to do: continue the team's long legacy of winning. Inheriting a team that already boasted five national titles, Gwozdecky has added two more banners to the Magness Arena rafters since taking over in 1994. The only coach in history to win a title as player, assistant coach and head coach, Gwozdecky was in position to add another to his resumé this season, before his team flamed out at the playoffs. Still, as college coaches go, he's Denver's biggest star.

Best Beer Run
Irish Snug Running Club

While many people would associate water or Gatorade with exercise, those people would be wrong, and the Irish Snug knows it. Every Thursday at 6:15 and 6:30 p.m., waves of runners head out from the pub, following a 5K route around Capitol Hill before returning at a sprint, walk or crawl. Why are they running? Because there is a free spaghetti dinner waiting for them. Oh, and lots of carbohydrate-rich $3 pints of beer.

1201 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80218
MAP
303-839-1394
Best Golfing Indoors
Swingers

Golf is big in Colorado, but it's hard to play in the winter. And sometimes, well, an air-conditioned bar full of beer and burgers beats the checkered pants off the green. In that case, Swingers' sports lounge makes for a good compromise. The upscale joint has state-of-the-art golf simulators that allow virtual duffers to play eighteen holes in under an hour — on one of more than fifty championship golf courses. Thirty bucks gets you an hour of play ($7.50 each if you've got a foursome). Call ahead to reserve a tee time.

9535 Park Meadows Dr., Littleton, 80124
MAP
303-799-0099
Best Dog Park
Chatfield State Park Dog Training Area

Chatfield's off-leash area was originally intended for people who wanted to train hunting dogs in an outdoor environment. In fact, last year there was some question as to whether the dog-training space would remain open at all: Hunters and horseback riders had complained that the number of off-leash dogs was interfering with their use of the park. But right now there are no plans to close the dog-training area to any of its users, which means that you and your pooch can still enjoy acres and acres of open space, wooded coves, two lakes more than big enough to swim in and a creek running through the entire park. There are paved pathways as well as dirt trails weaving in and around the area, restrooms, bag stations for cleanup (you might want to bring some extras) and all the space that Rover needs for roaming.

11500 N. Roxborough Park Rd., Littleton, 80125
MAP
303-791-7275
Best Overnight Backpacking Trip

Just fifty miles west and south of Denver, the Lost Creek Wilderness Area is the perfect place to get away from it all, including running water, but close enough that you don't have to go 48 hours without a shower. You can find any number of suitable campsites on the roadside, and even more just a short hike from your car. After pitching tents, hikers can take to the Colorado Trail, the Ben Tyler Trail and others; anglers can throw a line in the myriad beaver ponds dotting the creek; and loafers can drink cold beer in the sun, if they managed to pack a sixer — preferably in somebody else's pack.

Best Mid-Week Deal
Loveland Ski Area

Monday through Friday is the best time to head to the hills, for two reasons: Nobody's on the mountain and nobody's on I-70. The folks at Loveland Ski Area know this, which is why they offer a mid-week pass for $249 (or less, if you buy early or are a returning customer). Consider, too, that five-sevenths of the snow falls during the work week and that Loveland sometimes stays open until June. Of course, work can't be your priority if you're a mid-week skier or boarder. But maybe it shouldn't be.

12 mi. east of Silverthorne at I-70, Exit 216, Georgetown, 80444
MAP
800-736-3
Best Hikeable Terrain
Silverton Mountain

Welcome to the "sidecountry": A single lift takes you part of the way to Silverton Mountain's seemingly endless powder stash, but you'll be hoofing it in guided groups to get to the goods from there. Avalanche gear is mandatory and available to rent, and you'll want to break out your big boards. There are snowcat and heli-ski options available, but we recommend you do as the locals do: Use the Storm split board from Silverton's Venture Snowboards — designed with Silverton Mountain in mind.

I-70 W. to Exit 37 toward U.S. 550; 350 miles SW of Denver, Silverton, 81433
MAP
970-387-5706
Best Bronco

The Broncos' defense was shockingly unsucky in 2009, and much of that was attributable to the abandon with which Elvis Dumervil rushed opposing quarterbacks. His seventeen sacks led the league — by far — and his constant pursuit created a sense of havoc that allowed the Broncos to finish seventh in the league in defense, and in the top half of all teams in forced fumbles and interceptions. Dumervil was awarded with a Pro Bowl spot and a hefty $3.2 million contract for 2010. Worth every penny.

Best Sports Team ? Professional
Denver Nuggets

Somewhere in our collective dreams, there is a time when handing out this award will require some beer-fueled debate. Not this year. While the Rox will surely compete for a playoff spot, the Nuggets are the leading contender to overthrow the Lakers in the West, and they've hinted at an ability to do so by beating L.A. twice already this season. They have all the pieces: The star (Carmelo), the gritty veteran leader (Chauncey), the crazy person (J.R.), the other crazy person (Kenyon), and the reformed-crazy-person-turned-role-player (Birdman). If their coach can get healthy and not screw things up, they're locks for the conference finals — and could go even further.

1000 Chopper Circle, Denver, 80204
MAP
303-405-1100
Best Beer Cycling

Born from road rash, grease stains and beer, the Cycle Jerks are a group of bike messengers and enthusiasts whose website mission statement reads: "We write a blog. We throw events. We make videos (sometimes)." And the events — group rides that typically leave from bars — are a cycling subculture sight to behold.

Best Place To Get Wet and Wild Indoors
Apex Center

It's a rainy day, the kids are antsy, and you're desperate for some R&R. Why not head to the Apex Center, centerpiece of the Apex Park and Recreation District that's essentially a rec center on steroids? Aside from its two NHL-caliber ice rinks, natural rock-climbing wall and three full-sized gymnasiums, the joint features a 23,000-square-foot mother of all indoor wet zones: activity and lap pools, a multi-level water playground, gold-miner-themed water slides, a lazy river and a variety of hot tubs, some of which are designed for families. Call it Colorado's Club Med.

13140 W. 72nd Ave., Arvada, 80005
MAP
303-424-2739
Best Skatepark
Roxborough Skatepark

Designed by Tim Payne and built by Team Pain Skate Parks — the folks behind the killer concrete in Aspen, Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Salida — Roxborough features a great street course and two of the best bowls in the state, complete with pool coping, stairs, death boxes and a "Roman"-style deep end. It's nestled near Roxborough State Park, so you and the local wildlife will have the place pretty much to yourself. On second thought, forget you read this: We like it nice and quiet, just the way it is.

7673 N. Rampart Range, Littleton, 80125
MAP
303-779-4525
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Best Coach ? College: George Gwozdecky

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