The Broncos' defense was shockingly unsucky in 2009, and much of that was attributable to the abandon with which Elvis Dumervil rushed opposing quarterbacks. His seventeen sacks led the league — by far — and his constant pursuit created a sense of havoc that allowed the Broncos to finish seventh in the league in defense, and in the top half of all teams in forced fumbles and interceptions. Dumervil was awarded with a Pro Bowl spot and a hefty $3.2 million contract for 2010. Worth every penny.

Pepsi Center

Somewhere in our collective dreams, there is a time when handing out this award will require some beer-fueled debate. Not this year. While the Rox will surely compete for a playoff spot, the Nuggets are the leading contender to overthrow the Lakers in the West, and they've hinted at an ability to do so by beating L.A. twice already this season. They have all the pieces: The star (Carmelo), the gritty veteran leader (Chauncey), the crazy person (J.R.), the other crazy person (Kenyon), and the reformed-crazy-person-turned-role-player (Birdman). If their coach can get healthy and not screw things up, they're locks for the conference finals — and could go even further.

Born from road rash, grease stains and beer, the Cycle Jerks are a group of bike messengers and enthusiasts whose website mission statement reads: "We write a blog. We throw events. We make videos (sometimes)." And the events — group rides that typically leave from bars — are a cycling subculture sight to behold.

Apex Center

It's a rainy day, the kids are antsy, and you're desperate for some R&R. Why not head to the Apex Center, centerpiece of the Apex Park and Recreation District that's essentially a rec center on steroids? Aside from its two NHL-caliber ice rinks, natural rock-climbing wall and three full-sized gymnasiums, the joint features a 23,000-square-foot mother of all indoor wet zones: activity and lap pools, a multi-level water playground, gold-miner-themed water slides, a lazy river and a variety of hot tubs, some of which are designed for families. Call it Colorado's Club Med.

Roxborough Skate Park

Designed by Tim Payne and built by Team Pain Skate Parks — the folks behind the killer concrete in Aspen, Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Salida — Roxborough features a great street course and two of the best bowls in the state, complete with pool coping, stairs, death boxes and a "Roman"-style deep end. It's nestled near Roxborough State Park, so you and the local wildlife will have the place pretty much to yourself. On second thought, forget you read this: We like it nice and quiet, just the way it is.

Devil's Thumb Ranch

With its relatively steep trails — and prices to match — Devil's Thumb isn't the place to go for your first time on cross-country skis. Set against the hills of Roosevelt National Forest between Fraser and Tabernash, however, it's a breathtakingly beautiful site. The ranch's 100 kilometers of groomed trails offer more than you could possibly get bored with in terms of difficulty and distance, and there are plenty of extras available, from a professional (ski) wax to maintenance and lessons.

A thumb and some skis or a snowboard will still reliably get you a ride up Loveland or Berthoud Pass most days, but for longer journeys starting from the metropolitan area or anywhere else in Colorado, try the virtual hitchhiker's rideshare board at SkiCarpool.org, a non-profit operation with the motto "Make friends, not traffic." Offer to drive or pitch in for gas and you'll have some brand-new riding buddies within minutes. The site also features a Colorado Ski Country USA snow report, links to the dreaded CDOT updates, and information on winter driving and fuel economy. Way to ride!

Copper Mountain Resort

Snowboarding moves pretty fast, and this year's double-cork craze kept Colorado pipe jocks JJ Thomas, Zack Black, Steve Fisher and Matt Ladley out of Olympic contention. All four will be working out over the trampolines, foam pits and air bags at Woodward at Copper to play catchup, and the indoor/outdoor action sports camp is your best bet for learning some new tricks, too. Start with the mandatory One Hit Wonder training session, then check out the Winter Day Camp and Summer Camp options, where you'll go from indoor training to on-snow sessions in Copper's terrain parks.

As Troy Tulowitzki went in 2009, so went the Rockies. And in the end, both went to the playoffs. Tulo started the season slow — he hit .200 in April and .240 in May — but he came to life around the time the Rox also caught fire. By September, he had re-established himself as the team's offensive leader, finishing the season with a team-leading 32 home runs. Combined with his youth (he's 25) and a smooth glove (he finished second in the majors in fielding percentage), he edges out Todd Helton as the top Rockie.

A bona fide powerhouse, the University of Denver Pioneers' success has the utilitarian benefit of being damn entertaining, and for ticket prices that don't require special financing. The country's No. 1 team at the end of the regular season, the Pioneers entered the playoffs poised — expected, really — to reach their fifteenth Frozen Four and compete for their eighth national championship. They then promptly lost their opening playoff game. Still, if Magness Arena isn't part of your winter-entertainment agenda, make it so next season.

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