Protip: Catch an advance Denver Big Air preview on the sly at practice tonight

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It may be that the powers-that-be of Civic Center Park have Denver Big Air, which starts tomorrow, locked down tighter than a low-income high school, but that's not going to stop the determined winter sports enthusiast from seeing it for free. It is, after all, an enormous ramp in a public park, which makes blocking off all view a pretty tricky proposition, and one that makes the prohibitive prices they're charging for tickets a pretty easy problem to get around. And if you're an advocate for sticking it to the man, tonight's a prime time to do it.

Starting this afternoon, the skiers and snowboarders competing in Big Air will be testing out the ramp, which got packed with snow over the weekend courtesy of a couple of snow machines from Copper Mountain -- workers are putting the finishing touches on it today. And since the crowds and increased security are yet to come, if you've got an itch to see people doing ridiculously large jumps off a ridiculously large ramp, the practice runs are an excellent time to stake out a vantage.

Snowboarders will take practice runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and skiers will go 7:30 to 9:30. For your convenience, a couple of recommendations of where to get a good view.

The best view of the full ramp is probably along 14th Avenue near the library, though that Parthenon-looking thing with the columns gets in the way in spots. Try 14th and Bannock for a pretty unobstructed view. Like the scrooges they are, they blocked off Bannock in front of the City and County Building, so it's difficult to get a straight-on view, but the area around Colfax and Bannock gets pretty close. Moving a little further toward Broadway on Colfax, you can get a pretty decent wide-angle of the ramp in profile.

Godspeed, young penny-pincher, and keep it cheap.

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