Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Most ski areas struggle at some point with the flow of skiers and snowboarders, and the sheer size of the 5,289-acre Vail means it has bigger problems than most. What makes the popular resort stand out, though, is its willingness to address the issues, and a big schuss in the right direction was the upgrade of the Chair 11 lift on the front side to a faster six-pack. The revamped Northwoods Express — the resort's tenth new lift in eleven years — debuted in December, and it immediately had the intended effect of shortening lift lines and wait times for folks trying to access Vail's intermediate and expert terrain, as well as helping everyone move more efficiently through to the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. It also means getting to the area's namesake trail quicker: the popular and super-wide Northwoods run, a beautiful blue with a moderate pitch and plenty of space for big carving, with access into the trees that border both sides.
Readers' Choice: Northwoods Express (#11)
The City Park and Capitol Hill neighborhoods have long been in need of an affordable indoor fitness facility, and the Carla Madison Rec Center certainly delivers. The state-of-the-art gym, which opened earlier this year, has it all: a fully stacked weight room, cardio equipment as far as the eye can see, a gym space that can accommodate volleyball and basketball games, lap lanes for hard-core swimmers, and even a lazy river for those looking to do no exercise at all. The center takes full advantage of our wonderful weather, too, with an exterior rock wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, a rentable rooftop deck with kitchen facilities, and a plaza on the ground floor complete with a bouldering rock (it's Colorado, after all). With affordable rates for adults and free entry for kids with the My Denver Card and seniors with the My Denver PRIME Card, there's no better deal in this fitness-obsessed city.
Sometimes it's all about the basics, and that's what the Twentieth Street Recreation Center does best. There's a lap pool, a basketball court with a manually rotating scoreboard, a weight room with just the necessities, and a nice set of ellipticals, treadmills and stair climbers that face soaring windows looking onto 20th Street. The center offers spin classes, pickleball, pottery studio sessions and aqua aerobics, but Twentieth Street's crowning achievement is its seventy-year-plus boxing program, which serves kids and adults of all skill levels. Built in 1908, the center retains a well-worn charm, from the beautiful banisters on its grand staircase to the tile floors, and natural sunlight pours into the historic structure. The gym's real secret? A knowledgeable, caring staff that greets you by name from behind a massive wooden desk. Old-school customer service from a truly old-school establishment.
If your resolution was to get fit but you don't like going to the gym, Chuze Fitness is for you. For $9.99 a month, members have access to over 120 pieces of cardio equipment, along with weights, turf training and express circuit areas. The real genius here? The Chuze Cinema, a full-sized theater where walkers, runners and cyclers can watch first-run movies on the big screen while burning calories. An upgraded membership ($21.99) includes access to a variety of daily fitness classes ranging from yoga and Pilates to Zumba and Kettle Camp. And with an on-site kids' club, exercise is convenient for moms and dads.
You've probably seen Sound Off's headphones at silent-disco parties, but the company also provides wireless ear gear at various fitness classes it plans in cities around the country, including Denver. Sound Off's Deep Flow Yoga and Fitness classes — which you'll find at a variety of studios and events, like the recent McNichols Fit Fest and Yoga on the Rocks — combine movement and sound for a group activity that feels personal, since the instructor's voice and a curated playlist stream directly to your brain. The world (and your breathy neighbor) will simply melt away.
Committing to a gym membership can be hard, especially when it comes with a hefty price tag and unfamiliar equipment or workouts. FIT36 is here to help, with a free-week trial program that lets you get in and get comfortable with classes and equipment before signing on the dotted line. FIT36's signature workouts take 36 minutes at most, and all are based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT). During your free week, try FIT36's "push, pull, pulse" system, or work with trainers to challenge your fitness and adjust your form. The flagship location is downtown, and there are outlets all around the Denver metro area, so get moving: This introductory gym package offers big bang for your buck (or lack thereof).
Ticket prices at Coors Field remain ultra-reasonable. For most games, Rockpile seats still go for the ridiculously low rate of $4, and you can reserve a spot in lots of other sections with better-than-expected views for $20 or less. Problem is, the team hasn't always been worth watching, which may explain why so many people have grown accustomed to visiting the Rooftop and drinking themselves blotto without glancing at the diamond. Fortunately, this year should be different. The Rockies made the playoffs last season, and thanks to burgeoning talents such as Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, DJ LeMahieu and more, they've got a damned good chance to contend again — and give you a reason to put down that beer every once in a while.
Hockey tickets at the University of Denver begin at $18, and great seats can be had for $40 or less, giving fans the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal views of a squad whose players regularly graduate to the National Hockey League. Glenn Anderson, a member of the Hockey Fall of Fame, and Kevin Dineen, who notched nineteen years in the bigs before entering the coaching ranks (he's currently an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks), are just two DU alums to have had memorable professional careers, while current NHL-ers include former Colorado Av Paul Stastny, currently with the Winnipeg Jets. Who'll be next? Drop by Magness Arena and find out.
Ever since Sports Authority went belly-up, the Denver Broncos have been shopping for a new corporate sponsor willing to pay around $10 million per year to have its name and logo on the side of the stadium — and the team maintains that this money is important, as it helps keep ticket prices down. But if that's the case with one company, wouldn't the situation be even better with two...or four...or ten? Hell, if all of these businesses with Colorado ties signed up, the entrance fee would probably be around $1.50. Then maybe we could afford to go to the games, too.
Readers' Choice: Mile High Stadium
Sons of Mile High was started by a pair of Broncos-loving pals, but don't worry if you bleed colors other than orange and blue. In an example of open-mindedness that's becoming all too rare in spectator sports these days, the Sons welcome all fans, regardless of their team of preference, and the focus stays fixed on fun and camaraderie, with plenty of suds and grub thrown in for good measure. The group typically arrives at Mile High Stadium five hours before kickoff, with beverages starting to flow within a half-hour, and the gathering spot is usually Lot M (though construction this past season forced a temporary relocation to Lot N). Check the excellent SOMH website for the wheres and whens each week. The Sons tailgate away games, too.
Very few national basketball gurus pay attention to the Nuggets, and that makes sense on some level. After all, the team lacks superstars and plays in the NBA's killer Western Conference, where even making the playoffs, let alone advancing, is incredibly difficult — and that's not to mention our presence in the frequently forgotten Mountain Time Zone. But quietly, the Nugs have assembled a young, vibrant roster whose members have huge upsides. Nikola Jokic is deservedly the center of attention, but guards Gary Harris and Jamal "The Blue Arrow" Murray are maturing rapidly, and Trey Lyles has come out of nowhere (actually, Saskatchewan, Canada) to demand more minutes. If ownership can keep this crew together for a few more years, there's no telling how high they might climb.
The amount of podcast content regularly churned out by BSN Denver is downright astonishing. The network has all of Denver's major sports teams covered, and covered well, with regular podcasts about the Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies and Avalanche popping up, whether it's in season or out. Moreover, commentators such as Broncos expert Ryan Koenigsberg, a Colorado native who co-founded BSN Denver, dig deep, with recent topics including the draft-centric program "Is It Crazy to Take a Guard at No. 5?" No need to choose between quality and quantity: BSN Denver provides both.