BEST CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS 2006 | Ben Anderson Icelantic AT Boards | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
A Best of Denver award may seem like small potatoes after your brainchild was just named Best New Product at the 65th International Trade Show for Sports Equipment and Fashion, but Ben Anderson knows where he comes from, and he beamed with Colorado pride when he accepted that honor in Germany in February. An Evergreen-based entrepreneur, Anderson wants to revolutionize the ski industry with his AT Boards, a fat ski/snowboard hybrid with just as much surface area as most long skis. The shorter Icelantics allow for great maneuverability in the trees, they can cut through just about every condition a mountain throws at a skier, and they're ideal for hiking in the backcountry, because they're much less awkward to carry. Anderson's just 23, but it looks like he's already won his uphill battle.
Founded in 1995 by snowboard-company pioneer Jake Burton, Chill started as a simple idea: to introduce inner-city kids and at-risk youth to snowboarding. Today the program has spread from Vermont to cities and states across the country, including Denver. Organizers work with 25 youth-service agencies -- including foster care and group homes -- to identify kids who might benefit from some time on the slopes. As local Chill outreach coordinator Daniel Ritchie explains, many teens have lived in the Mile High City their entire lives, yet never set foot in the mountains. This ski season, Chill had a roster of 170 kids who hopped on buses once a week to learn the ins and outs of boarding -- and got the chance to see life from a whole different perspective. Chill out.
By spring, all that wax you lavished on your board or skis at the beginning of the season has long since disappeared. Halfway up I-70, you realize that you're going to be stuck on anything that's flat, with the sticky snow pulling at your skis or board like a nagging child pulling on his mother's skirt. But a quick trip to Idaho Springs will fix all that. Maison De Ski will run anyone's board or skis through the wax machine for free. It's also fast -- just like your skiing and boarding will be after this stop.
The only thing that sucks about going to the mountains for the weekend is coming home in Sunday-night traffic. Giant SUVs struggle along like lumbering mammoths, and at the slightest trace of snow or ice, traffic often snarls to a halt. Frustration sets in fast: People want to be out of their cars, into their homes. A small ray of hope appears just pass the turnoff for Golden, where a third lane opens on the left side of eastbound I-70, giving savvy drivers a chance to pick up speed. It's an uphill stretch, but anyone who anticipates the break and has enough horsepower under the hood can stomp on the gas pedal and leave at least a dozen grommit cars behind. You may not go as fast as you did on the slopes, but it'll feel like you're flying.
Ready to ride? Hop on your Harley and head hell-bent for leather on Santa Fe Drive 25 miles south of Denver, then hang a right on Highway 67, zip past Bud's (home of the Best Burger) and turn left on Highway 105. This backcountry road takes you on a sixty-mile route through the foothills, along excellent winding curves, hills and beautiful straightaways. There are several worthy side roads to explore, or make tracks to Palmer Lake, where you can refuel at O'Malley's. From there, head north through Larkspur or Castle Rock -- but be sure to end your trip at the Sedalia Grill, one of Colorado's best biker bars.
Broken bones, rock and roll, foxy girls knocking the hell out of each other -- and on roller skates, no less. Is it any wonder that the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls are the hottest ticket in town? A motley crew of bad-ass babes in miniskirts, with gobs more guts than the Colorado Crush and the late-season Avs combined, the Rollergirls revive the long-lost art of the flat-track, all-female roller derby, and look damn good doing it. This is no catwalk show, however. Team members train year-round to maintain the strength and skill they need to stay competitive in intra-league games, and the Rollergirls' travel team, 5280 Fight Club, takes on challengers from other cities during prime derby season. This is a real, scrappy, sometimes bloody, often thrilling sport for women -- which is also why it's so sexy. You go, girls.
The quarter-mile is a great equalizer, and Bandimere Speedway is happy to oblige drivers who need to prove just how fast and furious they can be with "Take It to the Track." On Wednesday nights through the summer, you just bring your own car, sign up to race it and put pedal to the metal -- best time wins. Of course, every great racer needs a cheering section, and the bleachers here are no different than those at the Indy 500: filled with hot chicks, short skirts and the occasional bared breast. Go, speed racer, go.
There's no place that better captures Denver's northwest side than the Regis Square strip mall, with its cut-rate hair salons, a carnicera, El Nuevo Time-Out Billiards, a Rent-a-Center and Tequila Le Club. A big part of northwest Denver culture is cruising, so it's no surprise that on warm nights, most Federal Boulevard cruisers -- mariachi pop music blasting from their custom vans and trucks -- make this address a must-stop. Since the massive parking lot of the defunct Kmart next door has been blocked off by a chain-link fence, it doesn't take long for the Regis Square lot to fill with teens and other revelers flashing their rides, smashing bottles and, on occasion, shooting pistols into the air. Talk about a block party! This is everything a hot night of cruising should be.
The Aurora Wheel Park complex is big and round, shaped like a pizza, with one slice featuring a BMX dirt track, another housing a BMX ramp course, and another piece reserved for three roller-hockey rinks. But by far the most popular topping is the 20,000-square-foot skatepark that opened in 2002 to the excitement of riders throughout the metro area. Designed by SITE Design Group out of Arizona for a total cost of $300,000, the Aurora Skatepark can easily accommodate a variety of users -- everyone from balding BMX dudes to first-graders in Heelies. The street course has an open, mellow feeling, with well-placed ledges, rails and pyramids. The snake run is small, but skaters who hit the angles right will be pitched into a fast bowl with tight walls and interesting lines. Most important, the texture of the concrete is just right -- not too smooth and not too rough (unlike the Denver Skatepark, which is far too slick, in case you were wondering).
The large drainage ditch that runs through the Harris Park neighborhood near West 72nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in Westminster resembles one of those huge, concrete arroyos in Los Angeles that are notorious for suddenly filling with flash-flood waters -- along with abandoned El Caminos, stray dogs and Huffy-riding children. But Little Dry Creek lives up to its name and is usually no more than a foot-wide flow relegated to a narrow channel bordered on each side by large, banked walls. That's why the sections at the top, with a series of tall, concrete wedges and an oversized launch ramp, have been a prime unofficial spot for local skaters since the '80s. But ever since the site popped up as a major destination on Thrasher magazine's King of the Road tour, pros and bros from all over are heading to the ditch -- and keeping an eye out for storm clouds.

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