Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Keystone Resort enjoys a reputation for being a solid family mountain in winter, a laid-back place where many of Colorado's kids learn how to ski. But come mid-June, Keystone turns into a pretty hard-core mountain-biking mecca. With 55 trails comprising 100 miles' worth of lift-served and famously technical singletrack — complete with rock gardens, natural and man-made obstacles and plenty of places to get air — Keystone features some terrain that gives even the most gnarly mountain biker pause, all for $42 for a day pass (multi-day and season passes are available, too). The black and double-black runs offer serious speed, and the newer TNT section, an old logging road turned into a berms-and-jumps ride, has been revamped with sheer drop-offs in the smoother sections and "The Yacht," a wooden structure that gives you one last big move at the end. There's also a skills park that allows riders to practice on jump trails with rollers, logs and rocks at less-steep pitches than in the main park, as well as the Drop Zone, a series of ridgelines perfect for free falls from five to fourteen feet. There are a few beginner- and intermediate-level trails here, but for the most part, it's experts-only — and while you don't have to wear body armor, you'll probably want to.
Since the Broncos triumphed in Super Bowl 50 earlier this year, a lot of things have happened, many of them troubling. Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and David Bruton, key role players on the defensive squad that was primarily responsible for the victory, have been lured away by big free-agent bucks, and with Peyton Manning's retirement and the mutiny of Brock Osweiler — the heir-apparent signal caller who wasn't — the quarterback situation is uncertain at best. Yet the team's core talent remains — and remains hungry. Give the brain trust a year to put the pieces back together, then get ready for another run for glory.Readers' choice: 2020
We loved Von Miller before loving Von Miller was cool: He first won his Best Bronco award in 2012, when he was a rookie, and we've been on the bandwagon ever since. This year, though, he took his Von-ness to a new level. His hilarious sack dances — including the Key & Peele-inspired routine that earned him a fine from the NFL — prefigured his naming as a contestant on the next edition of Dancing With the Stars; he's a master when it comes to Instagram and Snapchat; and his interviews (about, among other things, his obsession with raising chickens) are consistently bizarre and hilarious. Oh, yeah: He was also the Most Valuable Player during Super Bowl 50 in every way imaginable. No wonder we love Miller time.Readers' choice: Von Miller
You'd think being the best Rockie wouldn't be that tough, given how bad the team was last year. But Arenado would have been the top player on plenty of other, much better squads, too. He hits for power, slugging a team-leading 42 home runs in 2015. But he's also a great situational batter, which explains how he managed to average a very solid .287 even as he racked up an impressive 177 hits and drove in 130 runs. Moreover, his fielding is outstanding, as he demonstrated during a flipping, back-twisting grab last April against the San Francisco Giants that was one of the most frequently replayed defensive highlights of the year.Readers' choice: Nolan Arenado
It was another lost season for the Nuggets, who often looked confused, disinterested or some combination thereof. But Barton was a big exception. When he came to Denver in a 2015 trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, he was a little-known quantity in these parts. But he soon made a name for himself off the bench, bringing much-needed energy, offensive creativity and hops so impressive that he was invited to take part in this year's NBA All-Star slam-dunk competition. And even though he frequently comes off the bench, he's the team's second-leading scorer, behind only the oft-injured Danilo Gallinari. In a unit that has underachieved, Barton's done the opposite.Readers' choice: Kenneth Faried
Matt Duchene comes in for plenty of criticism, in part because he was foreseen to be a truly transcendent player, and thus far he's been only a very good one for a team that seems ready to take the next step quality-wise but hasn't been consistent enough to do it. Still, Duchene is typically the Avs' biggest goal-scorer and points-generator, as well as the one player that opponents must account for whenever he's on the ice. Moreover, he's still a mere 25, meaning that he's got plenty of time to become the difference-maker so many prognosticators envisioned.Readers' choice: Matt Duchene