Gabrielle Begeman isn't as Fonda Payne as she is of dishing it out, and the 2011 co-captain of the 2011 Mile High Club — the Roller Dolls' premier team — is also its top skater. In fact, Denver native Begeman, a jammer since 2008, was voted most valuable league member, most valuable skater and MVP of her team last year. Wanna feel the Payne? Head to 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, where the Dolls roll.

Copper Mountain Resort

As if the Rocky Mountain Super Pass (Copper Mountain, Winter Park, six days at Steamboat Springs) weren't already one of the best season-pass deals in the U.S., Copper Mountain upped the ante this season with its $99 Snow Day Pass. For less than the price of a lift ticket at some other nearby resorts, Snow Day pass-holders got unlimited access to the mountain on any day Copper reported at least four inches of new snow. That turned out to be at least thirty days this year — one of the snowiest seasons on record — in case you were wondering why some of your colleagues have been taking so many "sick" days lately.

Mountain Top Children's Museum

Ski towns are great for grownups, less so for the wee ones. Unless you're a baby version of Bode Miller, there's not a whole lot that's designed for the kindergarten set. One exception is the Mountain Top Children's Museum in Breckenridge. The colorful indoor play area just off the main drag packs a lot of fun into cozy quarters, from a mini-planetarium and kid-sized rescue helicopter to a dress-up stage. As is often the case in Breck, admission is a bit steep, but, hey, it's still cheaper than a lift ticket.

Oh, the Melodrama, how it pained our souls. Our local sportswriters had every angle of the Carmelo Anthony trade covered, but it took a major media voice from out of state to big-up Denver on the national stage. (Sorry, Woody.) Amid overt suggestions that our town isn't good enough or big enough or exciting enough, ESPN.com's Bill Simmons represented, calling Denver "quite possibly" the most laid-back American city. "I have been to Colorado multiple times, twice for book signings; it's an extremely pleasant, unassuming, upbeat place," he wrote on January 13. "After I ripped Anthony in November for holding Denver fans hostage, I was stunned by how many e-mailed me; not to pile on to the rant or add additional thoughts, more to thank me for sticking up for them. The recurring theme? 'I'm glad someone outside of Denver noticed.'" We are, too.

Baseball announcers are second to none when it comes to obnoxious homerism and "I played the game back when it meant something" rambling. So the fact that Drew Goodman avoids these two habits puts him in an elite class. Add in clean play-by-play, useful information and appropriate pace, and Goodman is the town's best sports voice. He usually masters the ability to match the excitement of a moment without over-blowing it, and his greatest gift might be managing to make analyst and former relief pitcher George Frazier sound useful from time to time. Oh, and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has named Goodman Colorado Sportscaster of the Year seven times. Goodman can play ball.

Prickly Pete's

Prickly Pete's is the kind of place you can fall in love with after putting just one foot inside the door. It's a rock-solid sports bar with eighteen fifty-inch plasma TVs, substantial platters of wings, nachos and pulled pork, and frequent beer specials. But Pete's separates itself from other joints with its large patio, where, thanks to three fairly sizable TVs dangling above the doors, you don't have to worry about missing any of the action going on inside. And since most folks hanging out at Pete's are from the surrounding neighborhoods and impart the space with a laid-back, welcoming vibe, you won't find the amped-up craziness of downtown spots.

This season's story could have been one of tragedy, but instead, it's that of a near miracle. During an October 30 game, University of Denver Pioneers center Jesse Martin was hit while in the corner and suffered three fractures in the C2 vertebra near his brain stem. He was lucky his spinal cord wasn't severed, and through hard work, he's made great strides in his recovery. Martin is even entertaining thoughts of playing hockey again. Meanwhile, the Pioneers ranked in the top fifteen in the country in both scoring offense and defense, and finished the regular season ranked sixth nationwide.

No mid-season coach firing, no season-consuming trade rumors and no season-deteriorating losing streak. And, oh, yeah, a championship. Possibly a greater accomplishment than winning the MLS title was making Denver care about soccer. After the Rapids beat FC Dallas in overtime to earn their first championship, former governor Bill Ritter declared November 23 "Colorado Rapids Day."

It's an art installation. And it's a game. How the two crash together in the Seattle sensation that came to Denver for a six-weekend run is hard to explain. But this we do know: The mechanized mini-golf with air cannons, saw blades, ball drillers and a well-stocked bar is a blast. And cheating is allowed. We hope it comes back again. In the meantime, go ahead: Imagine yourself as Mad Max at the Putt-Putt.

Keystone Resort
Keystone Facebook page

Keystone's A-51 Terrain Park made top-ten lists in TransWorld Snowboarding, Skiing and Freeskier magazines this season, thanks to visionary park designer Jason George. The park has a dedicated lift — best seats in the house for the thrills and spills unfolding below — and features five different zones for everyone from li'l shredders to resident pros like Jossi Wells and Andreas Wiig. There are three jump lines (Incubator, Park Lane and Main Street) and more than 100 rails, boxes and other features scattered throughout the park. And when the season's over, George and his A-51 park crew are just getting started, catering to film crews and pro riders shooting next season's ski porn.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of