Sports & Recreation

  • Best New Slogan for CU Buffs

    "Excitements to Match Our Indictments"

    Just as Governor Bill "Sparky" Owens was able to turn the fearsome 2002 wildfire season into a national promotion for Centennial State s'mores, surely the University of Colorado and its spin-meisters can capitalize on all of the national press over the recruiting-party sex-assault scandal. Boulder's already given a whole new meaning to the term "student body " -- why not… More >>
  • Best Next Career for John Elway

    Very Special Assistant Broncos Car Hiker

    We really, really want John to do well at something. Anything, really. After all, he's our icon, our stainless hero. So it'd be nice to have him around for a while longer -- at least until someone better comes along. The problem is figuring out what, exactly, he's good at. He can't start a successful new business (see ya,… More >>
  • Best Next Career for Gary Barnett

    Custodian of the primate house, Denver Zoo

    Yes, yes, we know. Not all of the evidence has been collected and analyzed. The strippers have not laid their souls bare. The bills from the liquor store are still coming in. And the regents have not yet admitted that they, too, smoked a little dope in their undergraduate days. Nonetheless, the recruiting, rape and party scandal that has shaken… More >>
  • Best Sports Quote

    Jay Leno

    CU football's sex-and-recruiting mess has inspired many a wiseguy's raw humor, but the lantern-jawed host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno, nailed the thing cold on February 25 during his monologue. To wit: "Today the Taliban denounced the University of Colorado for its treatment of women."… More >>
  • Best Trial in the Court of Public Opinion

    Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Lakers, January 7, 2004

    Say what you will about L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant and that scrape he got into last summer up at Cordillera. Everybody else does. Thousands of Denver Nuggets fans have apparently already reached a verdict in Kobe's rape case, and they aren't afraid to announce it from the cheap seats. When the Lakers visited the Pepsi Center for the first… More >>
  • Best Plea for Acquittal

    Kobe Bryant

    It's impossible to know if he was motivated by sincerity, self-interest or an undeniable urge to expand his social life at high altitude, but when embattled L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant was asked in mid-February what teams he might consider signing with should he exercise his options next year as a free agent, the name "Denver Nuggets" immediately sprang to his… More >>
  • Best Nugget

    Carmelo Anthony

    The drama of the Denver Nuggets' sudden rise from the doldrums of incompetence to the heights of playoff contention features rookie sensation Carmelo Anthony as its leading man. After just one glory year at Syracuse (the underdog Orangemen won the NCAA championship), the 6' 8", 220-pound small forward opted for the pros. Now, not only are the hapless Nuggets delighted… More >>
  • Best Pro Coach

    Jeff Bzdelik

    Even last year, when the Denver Nuggets were still an awful mess and the departed Juwan Howard was their only scoring threat, NBA sharpies noticed that coach Jeff Bzdelik was bringing some fierce new attitude and commitment to one of the league's worst teams. This season, the former Miami assistant not only has players with real game -- rookie Carmelo… More >>
  • Best New Hoopnasium

    Gold Crown Fieldhouse

    Call it the House That Hanzlik Built. Ex-Nugget Bill Hanzlik, who co-founded the Gold Crown Foundation in 1986, is justly proud of the Gold Crown Fieldhouse, which opened last fall in Lakewood. Most weekends, its six gyms runneth over with Gold Crown youth basketball teams. The courts are also available to those hardcourt-starved squads that don't have anywhere to practice,… More >>
  • Best Youth Basketball Organization

    The Colorado Hawks

    When the Police Athletic League sixth-grade championship series was played recently at the Hiawatha Davis rec center, the Colorado Hawks were guaranteed a winner. That's because the two finalists were the Hawks' fifth- and sixth-grade teams. Since George Williams started the Denver-based nonprofit in 1997, the traveling youth hoopsters -- whose players range in age from ten to seventeen --… More >>
  • Best Athletic Performance -- High School

    Kyle Sand

    It's pretty difficult to improve on perfection, so Arvada West senior wrestler Kyle Sand earns this year's designation as best high school jock. All the shaggy-headed Sand did is finish his wrestling career without once losing a match: 125-0, with four state titles, the last one at 189 pounds. Anyone who knows anything about wrestling -- where a momentary lapse… More >>
  • Best Bronco

    Rod Smith

    Now that Ed McCaffrey has retired and Shannon Sharpe could well spend next season with his mouth in front of a microphone, the Broncos' receiving corps will be anchored by tireless team leader Rod Smith, the ten-year veteran out of Missouri Southern who holds Broncos franchise records for career receiving yards and touchdown catches. Come to think of it, he's… More >>
  • Best Sack of a Bronco

    Shanny's Adios to Daryl Gardener

    After a year in which Daryl Gardener went from presumptive defensive superstar with a seven-year, $39 million deal to an offensive-name caller who played in a total of five games, the only question was how the Broncs would disappear his 300 pounds of petulance. After a final spat over the pancake-house-brawling lug's $3 million signing bonus, Coach Mike Shanahan suddenly… More >>
  • Best Trade

    Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey

    See it in this light: Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan is so good at developing running backs (good morning, Terrell, how's the leg?) and working them into the West Coast offense that he could probably pluck a 160-pounder out of junior college and turn him into an all-pro. By contrast, Shanny's had bad luck with cornerbacks (Dale Carter, Willie Middlebrooks,… More >>
  • Best Mammoth

    Gary Gait

    He'll turn 37 on April 5, but Colorado Mammoth lacrosse star Gary Gait is still the league standard, the Michael Jordan of his sport. Last year, the 6' 2", 210-pound forward out of Syracuse broke his own National Lacrosse League single-season scoring record with 58 goals and once more became a first-team NLL All-Pro -- something he's done every year… More >>
  • Best Rockie

    Todd Helton

    No one else comes close. In his eighth season with Colorado, Todd Helton, the rock of the Rockies, remains the team's most consistent hitter and a Gold Glove candidate at first base. When he batted .358 last year with 33 home runs and 117 runs driven in, he became just the second player in big-league history to hit at least… More >>
  • Best Av

    Joe Sakic

    Like the team itself, the Colorado Avalanche's staunch captain, center Joe Sakic, has had his ups and downs this season. But as the playoffs approach and coach Tony Granato's much-battered troops try to get past the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi trauma, put Peter Forsberg and Alex Tanguay back together again and prepare for battle with the NHL's top teams, it is… More >>
  • Best Mascot

    Slapshot , Colorado Eagles

    Ralph Backstrom, the ex-Montreal Canadiens great and former coach of the DU Pioneers, has enjoyed great success in his first year as principal owner of the Colorado Eagles, the new minor-league hockey team that plays at the Budweiser Events Center (aka the Bud Barn) near Loveland. For every game, the arena is packed, the hockey is relentlessly rough-and-tumble, and the… More >>
  • Best Sports-Ticket Scalper

    Willie, "The Chief Boot Knocka"

    Listen, people, Carmelo or no Carmelo, you can still pay less than face value for Denver Nuggets tickets. True, the days of the ten- dollar, weeknight, center-court, lower-level NBA ticket are over (at least for this season), but Willie still can hook you up. He's the ringmaster of the ticket-scalping circus happening outside the Pepsi Center before and during the… More >>
  • Best Crush

    John Dutton

    CEO John Elway's struggling arena football team managed to win just two of sixteen games in its first year (neither of them at the Pepsi Center), and halfway through the debacle, you half expected old Number 7 to suit up and spark a couple of comebacks himself. But this season, the Colorado Crush has gotten off to a sparkling 5-2… More >>
  • Best Rapid

    Pablo Mastroeni

    Now in his third year with the Colorado Rapids, defense-obsessed mid-fielder Pablo Mastroeni has revealed a new taste for attack, but there's no one better in Major League Soccer as a stopper. Just 5' 9" and 150 pounds, the Argentine native moved to Phoenix when he was four and played college soccer at North Carolina State. Those who previously didn't… More >>
  • Best Fan Promotion

    Hot-tubbing with models, Colorado Mammoth

    Sure, it's swell to nab a T-shirt at a Nuggets game or pick up the latest bobblehead doll. But for sheer feel-good, trouser-tightening reward, nothing beats the Colorado Mammoth's promotion of letting some lucky fan (in one instance, volunteers were asked to race across the field in swimming flippers, honors to the winner) sit and stew field-side with swimsuit-clad hotties… More >>
  • Best CU Athlete

    David Harrison

    He's seven feet tall and his skills look a bit raw, but sometimes he handles the ball with amazing grace, and the minute you see him work his way into the paint, you see he's one of the strongest, most instinctual centers in college basketball. Without David Harrison, their junior redwood from Nashville, Tennessee, the Colorado Buffs might be an… More >>
  • Best CSU Athlete

    Nolan Martin

    Look out, Tiger. Put a three-iron in Nolan Martin's hands and he'll inevitably knock it stiff. Last fall, the Colorado State senior from Colorado Springs led the Rams golf team to the best single season in school history. They played six tournaments (against multiple schools) and finished in the top four five times. Individually, Martin became just the third CSU… More >>
  • Best DU Athlete

    Adam Berkhoel

    He's had his moments of self-doubt this season, and when the University of Denver Pioneers hockey team went 3-4-1 in January while getting outscored 16-22, senior goaltender Adam Berkhoel knew he wasn't playing up to form. But then the team put together a nine-game unbeaten streak that propelled them into the post-season. Berkhoel had turned into a brick wall, astonishing… More >>
  • Best College Coach

    Mike Dunlap, Metropolitan State College of Denver

    When a couple of big-deal basketball schools came calling, Metro State hoops coach Mike Dunlap politely said no and got back to the business of keeping his Roadrunners at the top of the Division II game. Since 1997, Dunlap has won a pair of national championships for the big commuter school on the Auraria campus, and the 2003-04 'Runners finished… More >>
  • Best Individual College Athletic Performance

    Dathan Ritzenhein

    When Dathan Ritzenhein came to CU two years ago from Michigan, he was one of the most highly touted prospects to arrive at the Boulder campus in any sport. But the first-ever winner of two consecutive Foot Locker cross-country championships was kept out of the running last year with an early stress fracture of his leg. This time around, though,… More >>
  • Best Sports Team -- College

    Air Force Academy Men's Basketball

    The Falcons may not get the big ink, but this year there was no better Colorado-based team sports story -- that didn't appear in the crime blotter, at least -- than Air Force basketball. Credit coach Joe Scott. First as a player, then as an assistant coach under the masterful Pete Carril, Scott was schooled in the disciplined Princeton University… More >>
  • Best Sports Team -- Professional

    Colorado Avalanche

    All right, so the Avalanche has been in a swoon of late. Even the Zamboni drivers have heard the rumors about coach Tony Granato's departure, and some Avs veterans have questioned their teammates' work ethic as the NHL playoffs draw near. Still, the two-time Stanley Cup champions remain a scary power to all of the top teams in the league… More >>
  • Best Race-Car Driver

    Jerry Robertson, Colorado National Speedway

    The three-eighths-mile ovals of the world -- paved and dirt -- will never get the ink or the airtime accorded the big super-speedways, and the drivers who spend their Saturday nights careening around these circuits don't get any Jeff Gordon-style endorsement contracts. But they are the lifeblood of U.S. stock-car racing, and Arvada's Jerry Robertson is one of the best… More >>
  • Best Place to Release Your Inner Earnhardt

    Denver Indoor Kart Racing

    The track at Denver Indoor Kart Racing isn't one of those wussy kids' tracks with accelerator regulators and lanes that are too narrow to pass in. This is the real deal -- and worth the hunt to find the obscure warehouse just north of I-70. Helmets are required -- yes, the carts can spin out -- but the front desk… More >>
  • Best Athlete -- Voluntarily Disabled Division

    Aron Ralston

    We've heard of men changing genders and then competing in women's events, and even of women switching teams to compete. Michael Jordan changed sports, and boxer Roy Jones Jr. juggles weight divisions so often you never know where he'll end up. But there's only one athlete we know of who went from being an excellent, able-bodied outdoorsman to a one-armed… More >>
  • Best Athlete -- Lifelong

    Larry Imperiale

    You think Patrick Roy had an illustrious career? Ha! While Roy hung up his pads last year, Larry Imperiale, the king of freestyle Frisbee, is still hucking disc with the best of them. The software developer, who lives in the foothills west of Denver, has been finishing on top of 'bee tournaments for four decades, and he's won major titles… More >>
  • Best Gym Deal

    Dumbbells: A Fitness Club

    The wait for machines and the posturing at those big fitness centers is enough reason to skip the gym altogether. And the steam-room culture -- and price -- of Denver's elite clubs isn't much better. But at Dumbbells, $50 a month for singles and $80 for couples buys you access to a clean, well-maintained weight room with little to no… More >>
  • Best Yoga Deal

    The Oxford Club

    There are yoga studios and yoga styles to suit almost any practitioner -- but not just any budget: A serious yogi is looking at dropping $120 a month for a class card at most studios. At the Oxford Club, $50 a month ($600 a year) buys yoga seven days a week, plus access to the work-out facilities -- weights, free… More >>
  • Best Pool Hall

    Jillian's, Colorado Mills

    Okay, okay: Jillian's isn't one of those smoky, spit-scarred old pool halls that have earned top honors in the past. But let's remember that pool is a social event as well as a sport. So it's about time we paid homage to a company (yes, Jillian's is part of a chain) founded on the pool-as-entertainment theme. And how's this for… More >>
  • Best Place to Light One Up

    Lyons Classic Pinball

    Ding! Ding-ding! (Bump.) Ding! Ding-ding! If you ever walked into a pinball arcade going full-bore in the late '70s, you'd know the sound immediately, because there's nothing like it. Unlike the robotic Pacman and its cavalcade of increasingly sophisticated computerized offspring, pinball is a game rooted in physicality: You grind your hips into the machine, play rough with it, guide… More >>
  • Best Old-School Video Arcade

    Climax Lounge

    Sure, the front of the Climax Lounge is one of Denver's finest black-box live-music venues, but the vintage video arcade in the back lounge is where we like to spend our spare change. The selection of early- to mid-1980s games is truly a hall of fame: Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Centipede, Galaga, Qix, Tempest, Gorf and Tron (light cycles rock,… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Shuffleboard

    Candle Light Tavern

    At the Candle Light Tavern, bar games are taken seriously. And while the dart boards, pool tables, foosball and Golden Tee Golf games are always popular, the kick-ass shuffleboard table is where the serious action happens. The long wooden table is covered with plenty of smooth sand, and an electronic score board hangs above center court; fifty cents is the… More >>
  • Best Place to Lose a Day Playing Monopoly

    Recovery Room

    Monopoly is not a game of speed. And whether you prefer to be the cannon, the dog, the top hat or the thimble, there is a built-in Monopoly board in a booth at the Recovery Room that is just waiting for challengers to cover its Park Place and Marvin Gardens with houses and hotels. And this dark, narrow neighborhood tavern… More >>
  • Best Vacations for Dogs

    Colorado Canines Adventure Trips

    Now more than ever, people are traveling with their dogs. Leave it to someone in this hound-huggin' state to come up with a better way to do it. Boulder pet-supply retailer Alex Teller decided last year to organize adventure travel packages tailored especially for shared human/canine enjoyment. Trips range from winter skijoring clinics to summer tubing excursions and backpacking expeditions;… More >>
  • Best Day Trips for Kids

    Cruisin' Kids

    Littleton mother of two and former teacher Alison Weems noticed how hard it was to keep up with local children's events, despite the fact that there were plenty of them to choose from. Unfortunately, she found, you needed a stack of newspapers and magazines, a strong word-of-mouth network and a cast-iron memory to even know about them all, let alone… More >>
  • Best Day Trips for Dogs

    Denver Hound Hikers

    Aw, go take a hike! For a mournful pooch accustomed to being locked up all day with nothing to keep him company but destructible furniture, the context is anything but negative. After all, what hound wouldn't rather go for a walk? Save your sofa: Denver Hound Hikers provides various dog-walking services, from a standard midday fifteen-minute walk around the block… More >>
  • Best New Playground

    Altair Playground

    Altair playground, which opened nearly a year ago near Park Meadows mall, is out of this world, and that's all part of the plan: In addition to its picnic shelter and spanking-new toddler-friendly equipment geared to the two-to-five set, Altair's centerpiece is a literal wreck -- an alien ship crashed into a rock that beckons kids to come climb all… More >>
  • Best Kids' Swimming Parties

    Golden Community Center

    The Golden Community Center's got it all under one roof: a six-lane lap pool, a therapy pool and an awesome kids' pool designed to provide a great swimming experience for all, regardless of age or level of water wisdom. Babies in swim diapers are in their element in gradually graded shallows that mimic the seashore, while older kids can romp… More >>
  • Best Little Parties on the Prairie

    Four Mile House Historic Park

    Four Mile Historic Park, perched along the Cherry Creek Greenway, is an agrarian jewel, a throwback to earlier times smack-dab in the middle of the city. And it's a heck of a lot better than the rigors of Chuck E. Cheese's for kids' birthday parties. Instead of video games and rides, Four Mile offers horse-drawn wagon rides, pioneer and/or tepee… More >>
  • Best Tennis Court -- Urban

    Blake Street Bath and Racquet Club

    Few people know it, but deepest concrete LoDo boasts its own tennis court. Available by invitation only, the Blake Street Bath and Racquet Club was built as part of a condo project in the 1970s. Now surrounded by new lofts with iron-fenced balconies, the court is just barely visible from the street. "There is more playing space on the ends… More >>
  • Best Tennis Court -- Leafy

    If you're looking for perfect bounces and ideal lighting, the solitary, hidden tennis court at 10th Avenue and Olive Street might not be for you. But if you want atmosphere, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to play a few sets. Encased by beautiful mature, ivy-covered fences, the court was built by the grandfather of Denver tennis doyenne… More >>
  • Best Private Tennis Courts

    Denver Tennis Club

    Plenty of new tennis courts have sprung up around the metro area as wealthy residents have pushed into the suburbs. But after a layer of Har-Tru and a chain-link fence, what really distinguishes one place from another? The answer is feel and tradition; after all, Wimbledon without history is just another place for Brits to frolic on the lawn. For… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    Fossil Trace

    Let's just agree that any golfing experience is enhanced by the presence of a genuine triceratops footprint etched into the rocks dotted about the course. This summer will mark the first anniversary of the opening of Fossil Trace, the city of Golden's entrance into the lucrative business of civic golf. The public course ($36 per eighteen holes for Golden residents,… More >>
  • Best Skate Park

    Denver Skatepark

    Hate to be obvious, but as the city boasts, the Denver Skatepark is the largest free public skate facility in the nation. With over 50,000 square feet full of planters, curbs, rails and a half-pipe, the park was envisioned and designed as a way to lure away the hordes of young skaters who descended on the 16th Street Mall and… More >>
  • Best Use of a Horse

    Arapahoe Hunt

    Tired of guiding your old nag around and around the indoor arena? Then ride him like he was meant to be ridden -- hurtling across field and stream alongside a pack of baying hounds in search of a varmint to shred. Most weekends from October to April, as well as on the occasional Wednesday, the Arapahoe Hunt pursues coyotes across… More >>
  • Best Private Wildlife Sanctuary

    Karin Heine property , Wheat Ridge

    This one's for the birds. That's who Wheat Ridge resident and nature-lover Karen Heine had in mind (along with the foxes, squirrels and occasional deer wandering through) as she worked to create a woodland paradise on undeveloped land she purchased expressly for that purpose. Located off 44th Avenue between Parfet and Oak streets, the vacant parcel of land was a… More >>
  • Best Defense of Nature

    Douglas County Open Space

    When Douglas County and Great Outdoors Colorado purchased a conservation easement on this 577-acre property in December, they acquired the final piece of a twelve-mile-long stretch of open space along I-25 south of Castle Rock. More than 30,000 acres are now preserved on both sides of the interstate, creating a permanent buffer between metro Denver and Colorado Springs. The land… More >>
  • Best Indoor Shooting Range

    The Shootist

    Opened four years ago, the Shootist stands out for several reasons. For one, the ten 75-yard lanes are situated underground, so the place stays cool, even in the summer. It's also well-lit, and because the owners used to be in the heating and air-conditioning business, the ventilation is top-notch -- not a small concern when you're burning through hundreds of… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Shooting Range

    Cherry Creek State Park Shooting Center and Range

    The more Denver grows, the harder it is to find a place to bust up a few clays, sight in your rifle prior to hunting season, or just make a lot of noise with your gun collection. Legally, anyway. Fortunately, there is the four-decade-old shooting center in Cherry Creek State Park. There, within sight of Denver's tallest buildings and its… More >>
  • Best Paintball Fields

    Paintball Adventures, Sedalia

    Want to be ready to make your homeland really secure? Then join the camo crowd that gathers on Saturdays and Sundays on a 110-acre outdoor site near Sedalia. Paintball Adventures divides folks up and then lets the paintballs fly -- as God and referees sort out the casualties. With a number of different terrains and a bunker-filled speedball site, this… More >>
  • Best Mountain-Bike Rides

    Team Evergreen

    Road-ride organizer of the killer Triple Bypass, Team Evergreen has begun offering kinder, gentler mountain-bike rides. While some can be challenging, others serve merely as an excuse for socializing while rock-hopping. Check the team's website ( for upcoming events, then get ready to roll.… More >>
  • Best Getaway From 1.5 Million Chatfield Park Visitors

    Waterton Canyon

    While nearby Chatfield draws millions, Waterton Canyon, on Denver Water Board land just south of the popular recreation mecca, allows cyclists, hikers and trout-killers a chance to get away from it all -- and them all -- along the South Platte River. On the wide bike trails, you can quickly escape urban life; the only other soul you may encounter… More >>
  • Best Camping Spot With Maroon Bells Access

    Silver Campgrounds, Aspen

    The Maroon Bells outside of Aspen have long been considered one of the most stunning sights in a state full of eye-poppers. But folks were loving them to death, so in July 2000, traffic access was closed to most vehicles, and tour buses began running sightseers from Aspen Highlands to the trailheads. With one exception: The campgrounds -- Silver Bell,… More >>
  • Best Scenic Snowshoe Dash

    Screamin' Snowman, Eldora Mountain Resort

    Gone are the days when folks donned snowshoes for a leisurely stroll through the wilderness. Today's fanatics can't get enough of charging through the powder and breaking a big sweat. And that's where the Screamin' Snowman comes in. For the past several years, hard-core harriers have gathered on the slopes overlooking Nederland, then charged off on 5K or 10K races… More >>
  • Best Reason to Stay Out of Gangs and Shred

    Snowboard Outreach Society

    Some anti-gang programs send kids door-to-door selling candy bars. Others stress the importance of education. But the Snowboard Outreach Society's message is as clear as it is radical: Ride to live! The ten-year-old Avon-based organization introduces at-risk kids to the joys of shredding -- ride-bys instead of drive-bys. Along with advice on how to carve and achieve big air, SOS… More >>
  • Best Terrain Park

    Freeway Terrain Park, Breckenridge

    Set at the bottom of Peak 8, Freeway is the consensus winner among serious riders. With its wide variety of jumps, funboxes and rails, and its nearly twenty-foot superpipe -- not to mention a blasting digital satellite sound system -- Freeway has it all. And unlike some terrain parks, Breckenridge caters to shredders of all abilities, from novice to expert.… More >>
  • Best Secret Snowboarding Spot

    Pikes Peak

    There are plenty of stops on the secret snowrider's expressway, where the general public doesn't even know you can get on board. And we're not just talking about hills at traditional resorts, where you have to hike off the trail in order to drop through some trees. No, we're talking about the special places that windburned vets in tuning shops… More >>