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.

In sixteen seasons as head coach of the University of Denver Pioneers hockey team, George Gwozdecky has done what he came to do: continue the team's long legacy of winning. Inheriting a team that already boasted five national titles, Gwozdecky has added two more banners to the Magness Arena rafters since taking over in 1994. The only coach in history to win a title as player, assistant coach and head coach, Gwozdecky was in position to add another to his resumé this season, before his team flamed out at the playoffs. Still, as college coaches go, he's Denver's biggest star.

Vital Yoga Highlands

Flo Lambert knows how to get her students moving: In her weekly Power Yoga classes, aspiring yogis sweat and flow through a challenging series of poses, guided by Lambert's gentle prodding. On the fourth Friday of every month, she gets primal, incorporating live drums to stimulate the mind as well as the booty. The drummers take their cues from Alya Sylla, a master djembe player who arrived in Denver from Guinea, West Africa, last December. The monthly Yoga Jams provide a range of unique experience: Where else can you experience world-class drumming while balancing on your head? This is a ritualistic and rowdy way to practice yoga, which also makes it a lot of fun.

Westerly Creek Trail

When Stapleton International Airport was retired, most of its concrete runways were crushed and reused (as an aggregate) in constructing nearby warehouses. But the more incredible runway-return-to-nature vision lies along Westerly Creek Trail, hidden beneath the MLK Boulevard bridge. Here, large concrete chunks were used like stones to line the hike and bike trails and retain the soil of low rolling slopes around the bridge. The concrete slabs look amazingly "natural" — almost like stone rockfalls — in a park that was landscaped with native plants. The beauty of the Westerly Creek Trail makes it a local favorite and proves that if we unbuild it, they will still come.

Ski Granby Ranch

The SolVista Bike Park at Granby Ranch will host USA Cycling's 2010 Mountain Bike National Championships July 15-18, bringing the event back for the second year in a row. Ride up the Quick Draw Express lift and pick your poison: The park now boasts more than a dozen trails with green, blue and double-black diamond ratings, including a beginner-friendly pump track and dual slalom track. The gnarliest offering is Buck Nasty, a steep, expert-only downhill trail opened in 2009 that features gap jumps, rock gardens and other obstacles to put your helmet to the test.

Winter Park Resort

The town of Winter Park throws the weirdest, most wonderful birthday party each January for Mary Jane, the gnarlier half of the resort. And while there is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink element to MJ, the Mary Jane Birthday Bash doesn't come off half-baked. In fact, it's remarkable in its ability to appeal to freaks and families more or less equally. Packed into three days are a parade, free music and food aplenty, ski lessons, snow golf, a snow-sculpture contest, a Mary Jane look-alike contest — last year's winner snagged a season lift ticket and $250 — and, of course, birthday cake.

Adam Schmidt's snowboard group on Meetup.com is fast approaching 1,500 members, a critical mass that has helped the Boulder Snowboarding Group organize competitions (this year they threw down at Loveland, Vail and Echo Mountain), host demo days with big-name sponsors, take over local bars with party-night "meetups," and wrangle group deals on avalanche safety classes, lodging, lift tickets, and transportation to resorts across Colorado and around the country. The best BSG events are the most informal: Backcountry kicker sessions, moonlight rides on Loveland Pass and "Wax Your Junk" tutorials at local shops help keep the ragtag crew together.

The Denver Curling Club's rookie league welcomed 280 new recruits in the weeks after Canada swept the men's curling competition at the Olympics. First established in 1965, the DCC now has three games a week on Thursday and Saturday nights at the Ice Ranch in Littleton and offers learn-to-curl classes that are almost always full. The game is harder than it looks, but an intro session and a few seasons of shoving stones around in league play should shape up your sweeping game in time for the trip to Sochi in 2014. We're coming for you, Canada.

It's hard to find much to praise about a Mammoth team that's racked up the worst record in the National Lacrosse League and still hasn't managed a win on their Pepsi Center home field. But wiry forward Jamie Shewchuk has been a ray of light in the Mammoth's dark season, both as a scorer and a distributor. His sixteen goals are a team high, and he's added nineteen assists to lead the team in points — so at least there's one lacrosse-related reason to show up at the Pepsi Center this year. Shewchuk and beer: What else do you need?

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