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Best Chance at Beating Shaun White in 2014

Matt Ladley

Four years is a long time in snowboarding, but we'll put our long odds on Matt Ladley for the next Olympics. The young rider from Steamboat Springs is inexperienced and inconsistent and a little bit insane — he was one of the first to huck a double cork in the pipe after Shaun White showed it was possible — and with a little bit of work, he just might be in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 for the XXII Winter Olympic Games.

It'd be amusing to choose someone else here. It'd also be wrong. Carmelo Anthony not only is a lock for Best Nugget, he's among the best in the league, and he's emerged as the NBA's best pure scorer. His offensive arsenal — jump shot, penetration, post-game and the like — is the most versatile in the league, and he long ago deserved to strip the title of Mr. Big Shot from teammate Chauncey Billups.

Considering the timing of things, it's hard not to show love to Rockies skipper Jim Tracy. With the team mired in a face-stabbingly frustrating start to 2009, Tracy was elevated from bench coach to manager at the end of last May, and the team immediately set off on a tear that didn't end until the playoffs. A model of mediocrity over his career — he's 636-614 in eight seasons as a manager — Tracy's laid-back demeanor clicked perfectly with the understated Rox roster. Here's hoping he has the same effect this season, all season.

Even poor college students need to keep their chakras in balance, but the costs of all those mats, water bottles and punch cards put yoga out of reach for many. Fortunately, the good people of the Auraria Health Center offer yoga every day but Sunday. Whether you choose kundalini, hatha or any of the many types available, you will stretch, you will sweat — but you will not pay a dime. Non-Down Doggers can choose from an astonishing range of free movement classes at Auraria, from African dance to meditation to belly dancing. We'll om to that.

This hidden corner of Denver has a proud history of being the best place to test the waters. Grant-Frontier Park commemorates the alleged location of Montana City, the first settlement established by pioneers on the South Platte River a year before the city of Denver. The width of the river narrows just north of the park's foot bridge, and the bike path is routed away from the river, leaving a stretch of river bank perfect for reenacting the pioneer peel. In the summer, the slow-moving shallow water is quickly warmed by the hot sun. A trek through the thick undergrowth is a must for the more secluded wallowing spots away from hostile witnesses and bored park police. Also, it's probably best to keep your face out of the river water, as the Englewood city sewage treatment plant is less than a mile upstream. As all skinny-dippers and pioneers know, keeping your head up and your eyes and ears open is the smart way to keep your ass out of hot water.

The Denver Roller Dolls have been skating their fishnet-and-hotpants-clad butts off to raise the profile of roller derby, taking third place in the 2009 Women's Flat Track Derby Association Nationals tournament, moving to the 6,500-seat 1stBank Center for their 2010 home matches, and arguing that their sport should be included in the Olympics. But that doesn't mean they've ditched the crazy costumes and noms du derby, and it doesn't mean you won't see some poor girl get clotheslined in the heat of the moment. Our favorite scary nickname is Honey Punches of Throats, aka Jessica Kolacny, a blocker for the Roller Dolls' Green Barrettes. We'll stay out of her way.

Keystone Facebook page

High above Keystone's River Run, at the top of 11,640-foot Dercum Mountain, is Adventure Point, and it offers one of the most hair-raising, scream-inducing adventures you and your kids (42 inches and taller only) can have while sitting on your butts. Carved into the side of the steep mountain are five icy trenches reminiscent of a bobsled course, but much shorter, wider and straighter. For $29 per person, you get an inner tube and an hour to hit those trenches. Take the hill straight or have the attendant spin you; ride solo or attach yourself to up to three other tubers. Then take the moving walkway (basically an escalator) back to the top and do it again. And again.

Shannon Johnson is the self-described "writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder" behind, an everywoman's (and -man's) blog about snowboarding, snowboarding and snowboarding. Shay blogs from her home mountain at Steamboat, travels to just about every major snowboarding event in Colorado and runs regular product reviews, interviews and other features that give a refreshingly personal perspective on riding and living the shred life.

Best Chance at Beating Torah Bright in 2014

Clair Bidez

The young rider from Minturn got the most attention this year after she stripped down for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue alongside Hannah Teter, alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, and aerialist Lacy Schnoor. But Clair Bidez also finished in the top ten at the first three events of the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix in 2009 and is proving that she can hang with the likes of snowboarding's elite, including gold-medalist Torah Bright. She'll spend the next four years trying to prove she deserves the attention.

Hobbled by injury last season, center Paul Stastny has re-emerged as the soul of the Avs in 2010. Sure, his goals are down from his first two seasons in the league. But the former University of Denver standout's leadership and puck distribution — he's sixth in the league, with 53 assists — have kept the Avs in the Western Conference playoff picture, despite an erratic season that's included the departure of 2009 Best of Denver winner Wojtek Wolski. And at just 24, Stastny is in position to be a fixture in Denver for years to come.

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