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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Free Workout

    Running the steps at Red Rocks

    Expensive boot camps and pricey gyms are great for staying in shape. So are skiing, kayaking and cycling — if you can afford all the gear that goes along with those sports. But if you want a real workout — one that tasks even the fittest of the fit — try running, jumping or climbing the 69 rows at Red… More >>
  • Best Guess for When the Denver Broncos Will Return to the Super Bowl

    2012

    Former coach Mike Shanahan took the Broncos to their first Super Bowl victory in his third season with the team. Riding the skills of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and Pro Bowl running back Terrell Davis, it was a quick start for a football Mastermind. New coach Josh McDaniels may be as smart and as driven as Shanahan, but… More >>
  • Best Bronco

    Ryan Clady

    A left tackle? Are we serious? Hell, yes, we are. Every football expert worth his jock strap knows how important the job is and identifies Ryan Clady as one of the Broncos' three top offensive building blocks, along with quarterback Jay Cutler (unless he gets traded) and receiver Brandon Marshall. But unlike the latter pair, the former Boise State standout… More >>
  • Best Bronco Surprise

    Peyton Hillis

    It seemed like a desperation move: After every other Denver Broncos running back went down with injuries, the team moved Peyton Hillis, a hardheaded rookie fullback, to tailback. Some said he was too slow, others said he was too big. But wouldn't you know it? Hillis ended up being too damn good for defenders to bring down — at least… More >>
  • Best Rockie

    Garrett Atkins

    At first blush, the Rockies' decision to give Garrett Atkins the equivalent of a $3 million raise for the 2009 season seems screwy, given that his RBI production and batting average are down from their levels during the previous two campaigns. But his digits remain solid — he drove in 99 runs and hit .286 in 2008 — and he's… More >>
  • Best Nugget

    Chauncey Billups

    Basketball isn't an individual game — or at least not at its best. But the addition of a single player can make an enormous difference, as Chauncey Billups proved when he joined the Nuggets early this season. In a matter of days, the Nugs were defending better, sharing the ball more often, passing up contested shots to get their teammates… More >>
  • Best Av

    Wojtek Wolski

    It's been a lost season for the Avs — the rebuilding year that the team's brain trust has been trying to avoid for quite a while now. But all hope is not lost, thanks to a core group of young players boasting an enormous amount of upside, with Wolski chief among them. He's big, durable and prolific — as good… More >>
  • Best Mammoth

    Gavin Prout

    On some teams, the designation of captain is the equivalent of a lifetime-achievement award — an acknowledgement of past accomplishments as opposed to current ones. Not so with the Colorado Mammoth, whose honorary leader is also among its most productive players. In 2008, Gavin Prout finished tied for second in the National Lacrosse League in scoring and led all players… More >>
  • Best Rapid

    Conor Casey

    Like Chauncey Billups, Conor Casey is a local hero who's getting a chance to prove that you can go home again. He excelled for South High School before heading off to get his kicks beyond state lines, first at the University of Portland and then for a number of European squads, including Germany's Borussia Dortmund. By the time he was… More >>
  • Best Sports Team — Professional

    Denver Nuggets

    True, we'd feel better about praising the Nuggets if the NBA season ended at the halfway point. That way, we could focus on the glorious addition of Chauncey Billups, the belated blossoming of Nene, the return of Kenyon Martin to his pre-Nugs form, the unexpected contributions from players such as Chris "Birdman" Andersen, and so on. After the All-Star break,… More >>
  • Best Sports Team — College

    Air Force Academy Falcons

    The Falcons make more out of less than any college football team in the country. Still, they seemed en route to a disappointing 2008 season until around the midway point, when coach Troy Calhoun handed over the offense to super-frosh Tim Jefferson, whose running and passing abilities regularly left defenses looking rubber-legged. Under Jefferson's leadership, the Falcons went 5-2 —… More >>
  • Best Coach - Professional

    George Karl
    Denver Nuggets

    The decision by Denver Nuggets management to deal Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons early in the season could have resulted in catastrophe — especially considering that defensive leader Marcus Camby had previously been jettisoned in a salary dump. But thanks to a big assist from Chauncey Billups, who's proved to be the real answer for the team, coach George… More >>
  • Best Coach — College

    Steve Fairchild Colorado State University Rams Football

    Talk about a no-win situation: Steve Fairchild was hired to replace Sonny Lubick, arguably the most beloved coach in Colorado State University history, and the man for whom the university's football field in Fort Collins is named. But while Fairchild is a CSU alum, he's had tremendous experience at the highest levels, having served as an assistant for the Buffalo… More >>
  • Best Sports Team General Manager

    Mark Warkentien
    Denver Nuggets

    It takes a lot to admit you're wrong, but that's what Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien did when he wisely shipped career chemistry-killer Allen Iverson to Detroit in exchange for Denver native Chauncey Billups. Iverson, whom Warkentien brought to the team in December 2006, has helped sink the Pistons. Billups — calm, accurate, and willing to play defense and pass —… More >>
  • Best Move by a General Manager

    Firing of Mike Shanahan

    All right, so Pat Bowlen isn't a GM. But no personnel move will make a bigger impact — and, we believe, a more positive impact — on the Denver sporting landscape then Bowlen's dispatching of Mike Shanahan, Bowlen's close friend and a Denver legend. Although new coach Josh McDaniels hasn't exactly endeared himself to Denver fans so far by pissing… More >>
  • Best Sports Announcer

    Mike Haynes Colorado Avalanche

    The casual hockey watcher knows Haynes best for his epic freakouts following game-winning Avalanche goals — happy events that have been in short supply this season. But despite his reputation, he's far from a one-trick screamer. His knowledge of the game is as wide as it is deep, and he's got an impeccable sense of pace and dynamics. He understands… More >>
  • Best Mascot

    Rocky

    Frankly, we're a little bored of giving the Nuggets' most valuable non-player the nod again. We'd happily reward some other costumed critter — if Rocky wasn't so friggin' amazing. He's a sleek, four-pawed entertainment machine who doesn't have to dress in skimpy outfits to be our favorite cheerleader, and his gags constantly thrill whether they're large-scale or small. After one… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    Denver Nuggets home games

    At NBA games, the best seats in the house are on the floor, which means the rich and the gaudy are front and center rather than tucked away in skyboxes. Check out the enormous bodybuilder guys in silk shirts and the buxom babes squeezed into zany zebra stripes. Take a gander at the old guys with rings on every finger,… More >>
  • Best Rebound

    Chris "Birdman" Andersen Denver Nuggets

    When wild-dunking, shot-blocking forward Chris Andersen disappeared from the NBA in 2006 because he tested positive for banned substances, NBA fans surely believed they'd seen the last of the man they called "Birdman." But after two years of banishment, Andersen returned to the league, and last off-season, he wound up back in Denver. Heavily tattooed, overly gelled and apparently substance-free,… More >>
  • Best Suppression of Freedom of Expression

    Brandon Stokley
    Denver Broncos

    Being newspaper people, we're big supporters of the freedom-of-speech thing — unless it costs our team fifteen yards. That's why we salute Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley for his brave shushing of fellow WR Brandon Marshall, who after a November touchdown against the Cleveland Browns whipped a glove from his crotch and tried to put it on, in an apparent tribute… More >>
  • Best Sports Blog

    Mile High Report

    With the death of the Rocky Mountain News, fiending Broncos fans will need new dealers to get their full fix of Broncos talk. Mile High Report is just the blog for the job. It's consistently populated with detailed, thorough and mostly rational analysis on subjects interesting and mundane, from Brandon Marshall's off-the-field issues to the cover skills of the Raiders'… More >>
  • Best Resource for Weekend Warriors

    http://denver.playcoed.com

    Okay, seriously, it's time to get off your ass. But the gym is annoying, running is boring, and drinking heavily does not, sadly, qualify as exercise under today's far-too-stringent norms. So embrace your inner fifth-grader and log on to denver.playcoed.com, where you'll find scores of leagues in sports ranging from the more serious flag football and softball to the free-spirited… More >>
  • Best Birding Adventure

    Colorado Birding Trail

    In all actuality, the Colorado Birding Trail is more a conglomeration of key birding sites throughout the state than a physical trail. But the concept — sponsored by the Colorado Department of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks and a flock of birding organizations — has an interactive home on the Internet, where nature lovers can piece together an itinerary that will… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Hike

    The Flatirons

    Whether your closet looks like a Patagonia outlet store or you view hiking as a prelude to a coma-inducing brunch, Boulder's Flatirons should satisfy your hiking needs. The rocky Boulder foothills are easily accessible from busy Chautauqua Park, and a variety of trails offer challenges for experts and beginners alike, but each features access to the same winding terrain and… More >>
  • Best Hike for Impressing Out-of-Town Visitors

    Trading Post Trail

    The 1.4-mile Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks is the perfect length and difficulty — short, easy and at a relatively low altitude — for anyone seeking a nature-y afternoon respite from the bustling streets of Denver. Plus, the gorgeous red rocks and the adrenaline-inducing rattlesnake warning signs are sure to impress out-of-town guests. The trail starts and ends at… More >>
  • Best Piece of Denver Outside of Denver

    The Denver Mountain Parks system

    Red Rocks is one. So are Winter Park and Genesee Park (where the city's buffalo roam), Echo Lake, at the foot of Mount Evans, and Lookout Mountain, home to the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave. In fact, the Denver Mountain Parks system, created in 1912, includes 47 unusual properties totaling 14,000 acres. Because of their location outside the city, however,… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Riverside at Commons Park

    There's no boardwalk, no waves, no surfers and almost no sand, but the tiny riverfront stretch down the hill from Commons Park is a peaceful way to grab a little serenity in the midst of a busy city. Close your eyes and listen to the Platte River as it trickles (or rushes after a rainfall) over the rocks and concrete… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Paddled

    Confluence Kayaks

    Whitewater kayaking is not just about having the right gear, though Confluence Kayaks sells it. It's not just about scoring the right price, though you'll find that here, too. And it's definitely not about a staff that simply regurgitates a sales brochure. What the folks at Confluence Kayaks give you is the confidence that comes with having poked the Grim… More >>
  • Best Swimming Hole

    Devil's Punch Bowl

    Tucked away on the other side of the Continental Divide, on the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River about seven miles above Aspen, lies one of the state's singular treasures: the Devil's Punch Bowl. It's not just a swimming hole; it's Nirvana with a river running through it. Imagine a cool, refreshing stream (okay, it's Ice Station Zebra cold), a… More >>
  • Best Public Swimming Pool

    Stapleton pools

    Stapleton may not have too many shade trees, but it has three public pools (the Aviator, the Puddle Jumper and the F-15) where overheated new-urbanists can cool off during the summer. Although all three can get crowded on the weekends, there are usually plenty of chairs and sufficient space to stretch out. The pools themselves are new and clean, and… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course

    Fossil Trace

    The opening hole of Fossil Trace Golf Course sums things up: Rising from the middle of the fairway, about halfway through the beastly par-five, a strange rock formation juts from the earth. It looks like a middle finger, and it's a warning of what's to come: a unique, sometimes harrowing but always rewarding test of golf. The test continues for… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf Course

    Aqua Golf

    Aqua Golf fell into ruins in recent years, an abandoned driving range on a sad little pond at the edge of Santa Fe Drive, where weeds grew tall as traffic roared by. Then the City of Denver stepped in and took a gigantic paintbrush to the eyesore, installing two miniature golf courses decked out with diminutive sand traps and water… More >>
  • Best Lunchtime Practice Session

    City Park Golf Course

    If you're going to survive either of our two best golf courses, you'll need to do what every weekend golfer despises: practice. And while there are plenty of great driving ranges in the area, none is more convenient for downtown workers than City Park's small but functional practice areas — a matted range, plus chipping and putting greens to hone… More >>
  • Best Lunchtime Basketball Game

    YMCA of Metropolitan Denver

    This is not just a game. Some of these guys have been coming to the downtown YMCA at lunchtime every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since the 1980s. There are lawyers, businessmen, laborers and former college players, and they range in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. What they have in common is a love of basketball — and trash talk. They… More >>
  • Best New Gym to Get Lost In

    24-Hour Fitness Parker Arapahoe Super Sport

    You know your gym? It's pretty big, right? Has everything you need? Well imagine your gym was three times the size, had four times as much equipment to make you sweat, plus racquetball courts, two pools, eight basketball hoops, and locker rooms fit for Carmelo. That pretty much describes the new 24-Hour Fitness in Aurora, a fitness maven's Taj Mahal… More >>
  • Best Boot Camp Workout

    Genesis Fitness

    Sometimes we need the added pressure of a financial investment to force a good workout. The threat of public humiliation doesn't hurt, either, and boot camp just sounds cooler than aerobics class. At Genesis, the pain doesn't come cheap, but the instructors are experts at kicking your butt. The POWER Boot Camp is four weeks of daily (you get your… More >>
  • Best Place to Jump Around

    Jump-Street

    Wouldn't the world be oh-so-much sweeter if we all lived in one big bouncy castle? While such a paradise only exists in our dreams, we're one step closer to it thanks to Jump-Street, a gigantic family fun center where a trampoline covers almost every surface. Somersault across the floor, pinball off the walls — anything's possible (as YouTube clips of… More >>
  • Best Year-Round Playground

    Paul Derda Recreation Center

    Broomfield's swanky Paul Derda Recreation Center has the answer to all those crummy winter days when the little ones are going stir-crazy — courtesy of its indoor playground. We're not talking about some lousy jungle gym. Think a McDonald's PlayPlace on steroids: a multi-story climbing structure, a labyrinth of rope ladders and fun-house tunnels, even tandem super-long slides. Best of… More >>
  • Best Pick-Up Volleyball

    Washington Park

    You can keep your sandy beaches and squeaky hard courts; for our money, the best volleyball is played on grass — shirtless and shoeless, in the sun — where you're still able to run and jump (unlike on the beach, where even decently athletic players are rendered virtual invalids). There are plenty of places to play, but none is more… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Lucky Strike

    More lounge than lanes, Lucky Strike at the Denver Pavilions isn't exactly your father's bowling alley. You won't find a soulless, big-box complex swarming with greasy-haired '50s Neanderthals, all hooting at women. Instead you'll find an intimate, plush, club-style room filled with the kind of sophisticated, trendy, urban young men used in cigarette ads. They'll be hooting at women, too,… More >>
  • Best Urban Motorcycle Ride

    32nd Avenue from Speer Boulevard to the foothills

    Trying to find a great place to ride without leaving the city can be a challenge. That's why we love this long stretch of 32nd Avenue. Meet your friends in the Highland neighborhood and then head west. You'll pass through some of Denver's oldest, most picturesque neighborhoods before crossing into Wheat Ridge and zipping by Crown Hill Regional Park. From… More >>
  • Best Skatepark

    Memorial Skatepark

    Dare we call the new Colorado Springs skatepark the best in Colorado? That's quite an assertion in a state considered to have one of the highest concentrations of quality skate parks in the nation. But skaters, bladers and BMXers have been voting with their wheels since the spot opened in January, and the consensus seems to be "Hell, yeah!" The… More >>
  • Best Place to Get High (on Your Bike)

    Monarch Crest

    There are plenty of quality miles to pedal on the Front Range, but you didn't buy that trick, free-riding dual suspension just to ride the foothills. The Monarch Crest trail is one of the finest rides on the planet; starting at over 11,000 feet in elevation and running along some jaw-dropping sections of the Continental Divide, it's not your average… More >>
  • Best Bike Ride With Food

    Sunday-Morning Breakfast Rides Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop

    Cyclists in the know understand that Salvagetti is like the People's bike shop: low-key, attitude-free and street-level. The folks there fix bikes, talk bikes and simply love bikes, and they see no reason to take the fun out of buying and riding bikes. Most important, at Salvagetti, biking is community, and that's why it organizes all manner of group bike… More >>
  • Best Après-Ski Parking Garage with Food

    La Cantina

    While tourists in Oakleys and Prada jumpsuits sip champagne cocktails on the cutesy sidewalk cafes of Vail Village, locals — and Denver day skiers — head to the parking garage après ski. La Cantina isn't exactly a restaurant. Sandwiched into a public foyer and hallway, next to a locker room and below the bus stop, it feels like the guys… More >>
  • Best Place for Ladies to Get On Board

    Outdoor Divas

    Outdoor Divas prides itself on catering specifically to sporty women and the understanding that what works for the gander isn't always good for the goose. That's why these women's gear shops now feature women-specific snowboards from Colorado's Never Summer Industries and other major manufacturers. Aside from just being pretty, these boards sport features designed to increase flexibility and accommodate a… More >>
  • Best Ski Deal

    Echo Mountain - CLOSED

    Since this winter's unseasonably warm weather never gave Denver's free Ruby Hill Rail Yard a chance to open, the next best thing to free is Echo Mountain. Even if you missed out on the pre-season sale of $129 season passes, a lift ticket at Echo still won't put you back too much: It's $43 — or $29 if you just… More >>
  • Best New Ski Lift

    Sheer Bliss

    The 700-acre Big Burn area is one of the most popular spots at Snowmass for its combination of rolling intermediate cruisers and expert glades. But for years, most of the traffic has been concentrated on the west side, served by the Big Burn high speed quad, while the east side has been underutilized because skiers were reluctant to hop on… More >>
  • Best New Gondola

    River Run Gondola

    Let's face it: Except for those elite few who hike for fresh tracks, most of us skiers and riders who prefer to stay in the lift-served inbounds can be a pretty lazy bunch. That's why we've chosen a sport that lets us ride up the hill while sitting in a chair and then coast downhill. The most physically taxing part… More >>
  • Best New Ski Terrain

    Revelation Bowl

    Though it might sound like the creation of a clever marketing pro, Revelation is actually the longtime name of this bowl overlooking the Bear Creek Basin. Above treeline, wide open and situated on a northeastern aspect so that it gathers huge amounts of snow from Telluride's predominantly westerly storms, Revelation Bowl sits directly off the back side of the famous… More >>
  • Best Area to Avoid Lift Lines at Breck

    Peak 10

    For wide open, empty blue groomers, Breckenridge's Peak 7 used to be the place to go because it took a little work traversing cat tracks to get there, thus deterring big crowds. That all changed this season with the opening of a new Peak 7 base development — Breck's first since 1971. Peak 7 is now the first stop on… More >>
  • Best Terrain Park

    A51 Terrain Park

    Terrain parks seem to get bigger and badder with each passing season as ski resorts try to find new ways to attract the snow-bro crowd to their lift lines. Colorado certainly has no shortage of Olympic-sized Superpipes, big air jumps and rainbow rails for the young and the reckless to choose from. But sometimes girls and guys just wanna have… More >>
  • Best Half-Pipe You Can't Ride

    Shaun White's secret Olympic training pipe

    It must be tough being international snowboard superstar Shaun White. After several years of completely dominating the sport in half-pipe and slopestyle riding, it's been difficult for the 22-year-old known for his shock of tomato-colored hair to get on a chairlift without being completely mobbed by admirers. So when rumors began earlier this year about a huge half-pipe built secretly… More >>
  • Best Collectible Lift Tickets

    Jim Hodges, "Give More Than You Take"

    Artist-designed lift tickets in Aspen aren't a new thing, but they are an enduring one. This is, in fact, the fourth year for the program, which is a collaboration between the edgy Aspen Art Museum and the folks who run the mountain, and it's usually accompanied by a full-blown museum exhibition by the assigned ticket designer that gives people something… More >>
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