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MEET THE BEATLES

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By Angela Youngman

The year was 1967, and it was the Summer of Love in San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands of flower children gathered in Haight-Ashbury, and in cities all over the country. In London, similarly themed gatherings took place in Tottenham Court Road where experimental groups like Pink Floyd played, and at Speakers’ Corner, beat poet Allen Ginsberg spoke at a Legalize Pot rally.

     It was also the year a seminal pop album was released by one of the most iconic music groups the world has ever known. Fifty years ago, The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” containing songs such as “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The music world gasped. This was a visionary, themed collection of songs wrapped in musical experimentation, which included everything from Indian instruments to crescendos from a 40-piece orchestra, never heard in the context of pop.

     The Beatles already dominated the music charts. This was the era of the Merseybeat, when the Liverpool-born band was producing hit-after-hit. “Sgt. Pepper” was released on June 1, 1967 and was an immediate success, spending 15 consecutive weeks at number one on the American charts. Time Magazine hailed it as “a historic departure in the progress of music.” The following year, “Sgt. Pepper” won four Grammy Awards as well as Album of the Year, marking the very first time a rock album had done so.

    Not surprisingly, half a century later, Liverpool is celebrating the occasion in grand style with the Summer of Love Music Festival in the city where Beatlemania still rules.

     Almost every street in the city carries memories of the Fab Four, for it was here that John, Paul, George and Ringo were born and raised. This northern English city is a busy port, with its own very distinct character, facing the river Mersey and the gray waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Mersey Ferry crosses the river regularly, just as it did when the famous mop tops played concerts on one of the boats.

     Today, you can take a combined tour of Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, respectively, where they wrote and rehearsed many of the early songs that made the Beatles famous. Walking through the rooms of these homes is like stepping back in time – almost as if the Beatles had never left.

     Walk just a few more minutes and you’ll arrive at Strawberry Field, the site of a former Salvation Army children’s home well-known to Lennon. As a child, he used to attend summer garden parties here. A replica of the red gate he would walk through is one of the most-photographed places in Liverpool. It was this site that inspired him to write the classic, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Travel around the city and other images can be found – Penny Lane where McCartney and Lennon caught buses into town; a statue of Eleanor Rigby sculpted by another famous ‘60s performer, Tommy Steele; and, of course, statues of the Beatles. A Magical Mystery Tour bus travels to all of the main sites, and passengers stop off at each destination to take photographs.

     Then there is the infamous Cavern Club. Take a look at Lennon’s statue slouching against the wall before passing through the entrance and down the stairs for an absolute must-see on any Beatles fan’s bucket list. Check out the mural celebrating all the bands that played here during that incredible period: Gerry and The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, The Shadows, Stevie Wonder and – right in the center – The Beatles. The Fab Four played the Cavern Club 292 times in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, developing a sound that would eventually lead them to international stardom.

This is also one of the sites used by the annual International Beatleweek Festival each August. It features 70 bands from 20 countries, including bands such as The Original Quarrymen, The Bootleg Beatles, Cavern Club Beatles and Hamburg Beat. Another of the Festival’s venues has special links to the Beatles – the local church of St. Peter, Woolton, in Liverpool. The church was where John Lennon was introduced to Paul McCartney at the Woolton Garden Fete on July 6, 1957. (John Lennon had actually been playing at the fete as part of The Quarrymen.)

     Out on Pier Head, in the old Albert Dock, is another essential part of the Beatles legacy: “The Beatles Story.” Sit down for a virtual drum lesson, overseen by none other than Ringo Starr. Admire John Lennon’s piano, his glasses and scrawled sheets of paper containing the beginnings of some of the greatest songs ever written. Inspect George Harrison’s first guitar. And watch video interviews with McCartney, Starr, George’s widow Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono as they recall their own memories, along with the countless photographs of screaming crowds, about the unique pressures the young musicians experienced. New on display this year are replicas of the costumes worn on the “Sgt. Pepper” album cover. Another rare display item is an alternative print of the album cover. It’s a little-known fact that Sir Peter Blake shot several alternative covers to the album, which were discarded in favor of the famous one. This alternative incorporates various alterations to the familiar collage background, as well as the positions of each Beatle.

     For the ultimate in Beatlemania immersion, there’s the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, named after the band’s first motion picture. Owners Bill Heckle and Dave Jones, who also own the Cavern Club and Cavern City Tours, live and breathe all things Beatles, having spoken to them, their families, friends and people who have worked with the band over the years. Although none of the Beatles have stayed at the hotel, Ringo’s son, Jason Starkey, and his grandchildren stepped inside a couple of years ago. Other visitors include McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear; May Pang, Lennon’s former assistant and infamous “lost weekend” girlfriend; as well as his younger half-sister, Julia Baird.

     Wherever you go in the hotel, the story of the Fab Four is outlined in words, art and memorabilia. This is a Beatles world where you can sleep in themed rooms, with original Beatles-related artwork on the walls created by “the World’s Greatest Beatles Artist,” Shannon McDonald. No two rooms are the same; each tells the unique story of the world’s most-famous rock-and-roll band, from birth to the present day.

     To complete the visit, Beatles fans can dine in the restaurant amid a plethora of memorabilia. Blakes Restaurant is named in honor of Sir Peter Blake, the pop artist who created the iconic artwork for the “Sgt. Pepper” album cover. All the walls are covered in stunning Beatles artwork. Also on display are 60 original items relating to the artist’s distinctive work on the “Sgt. Pepper” cover.

     What more could any Beatles fan want? This is pure Beatles heaven.

Golden Girl- Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin Conquers the Slopes

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Downhill dynamo Mikaela Shiffrin is at the top of her sport. She took gold in the most recent Winter Olympics, and is the reigning world champion in slalom. She holds the title of the youngest woman in U.S. history to win a World Championship and the youngest athlete in history to win an Olympic Gold medal. She holds the U.S. record for medals in slalom with 19 career World Cup wins and one giant slalom win, and surpassed skiing legend Tamara McKinney in medals. She’s broken records, and she’s not slowing down. And here’s the best part of this epic story: this skiing legend is just 21 years of age.

Born in Vail, Colorado, Shiffrin began racing at age six, entering her first professional races as soon as she was eligible to compete. She’s racked up numerous wins during her professional career, and when she won the U.S. National Championships at age 16, she became the youngest American skier to win a national alpine medal. Since her auspicious start in down-hill racing, Shiffrin has competed around the globe, earning an impressive array of medals in slalom and giant slalom events. At the age of 18, she took gold at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, becoming the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history. Best of all, Shiffrin is a rare combination of youthful innocence and seasoned wisdom. She possesses a gritty determination and maturity that falls well beyond her young age, and understands what it takes to win it all. She’s poised, she’s smart, and she’s a winner. Colorado Hotel Magazine recently interviewed Shiffrin to learn a bit more about this refreshingly candid world-class athlete and Olympian.

Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team
Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team

CHM: You demonstrated a love of ski-ing at the age of just 2 or 3. What made you fall in love with the sport?

SHIFFRIN: I started to love skiing because it was something I did with my whole family and my friends. I have really fond memories of skiing all day with my parents, brother, and friends. My love for skiing turned into a passion for ski racing when I was about six years old and I skied in my first race.

CHM: When did you start ski racing and when did you start to take it seriously?

SHIFFRIN: I always took ski racing really seriously because I enjoyed it so much. I’m pretty competitive and I wanted to win everything, even when I was six. I always wanted to beat all the boys and the older kids and generally anyone who was expected to be faster than I was.

CHM: Which event is your personal favorite?

SHIFFRIN: I don’t really have a favorite, each event brings something different and exciting to the table, but what I love the most is finding the similarities between each event. Even slalom and downhill have similarities, even though they look like polar opposites.

CHM: 2016 was the best of your career so far. What was the highlight of that year for you personally?

SHIFFRIN: One of the biggest highlights of my season last year was coming back from my injury and still winning the last couple races by over two seconds. When I was off snow for two months in the middle of the season doing rehab I really questioned whether I would be able to come back full strength during the season, let alone win again. So to be able to win the last three slalom races of the season was a huge milestone.

CHM: What has been the toughest race for you so far?

SHIFFRIN: There was one race a couple years ago in Maribor, Slovenia, when I just felt so tired and sluggish I didn’t even want to race, I just wanted to get back in bed and sleep for a week! That was tough because it was an important race in my hunt for the slalom title and I needed to pull myself together and muster up the energy to have a good race. The great thing about ski racing is that each run is only about 60 seconds, so even when you’re tired you can often find the strength to put down a good run.

CHM: What did it feel like the first time you were on the podium? Is it still the same rush?

SHIFFRIN: My first time on the podium was so surreal, but I couldn’t help but think “alright, I know I can contend with the best in the world… now I want to win”. That’s sort of the way it’s been my whole World Cup career— I’m always looking to get faster so I’m never really satisfied, but the feeling of standing on top of the podium singing the national anthem is incredibly special.

 Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team
Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team

CHM: How do you prepare for each race?

SHIFFRIN: My preparation varies depend-ing on how I feel the night before the race and the day of the race. If I’m tired I would tend to lay low and get as much rest as I can; if my legs feel sluggish I will make sure to do a good warmup and muscle activation workout the day before the race, so I really play it by ear. The one really consistent thing I do is eat pasta the night before the race, usually with a meat sauce but not too heavy. It’s pretty much the only thing I can stomach.

CHM: Do you still get race day nerves?

SHIFFRIN: For sure, especially on the first race of the season. I get really nervous because I don’t have a clue of where I stack up compared to the other girls. Once the season has gotten going and I have found a groove I usually feel better, not so nervous for races.

CHM: What goes through your mind when you’re on the course?

SHIFFRIN: Normally my mind is pretty free. I visualize the course a lot before my race run so I know what to expect when I’m skiing, and I get a course report from my coaches a few minutes before I start to know if there are any surprises with the course conditions or a specific area where a lot of girls are struggling. So by the time I actually ski I know what’s going on and I can just let my skiing take over.

CHM: What are your goals for the 2017 season?

SHIFFRIN: I have several different goals. I’d like to take back the slalom globe, as well as win the GS globe for the first time. Of course I’m also shooting for medaling at world championships, and come mid-season if I find that I’m really in the running for the Overall title that will become a priority as well.

CHM: Do you have a particular race that was especially memorable or gratifying?

SHIFFRIN: I have some great memories from a lot of my races, but I’d say winning the World Championships slalom in Vail-Beaver Creek was a really incredible day. I never expected to have the opportunity to race a big event in my hometown in the first place, but to win in front of my home crowd was a giant cherry on top of a pretty sweet cake.

CHM: When you were growing up, did you have a feeling or belief that one day you would be skiing on the US Ski Team?

SHIFFRIN: It’s not that I truly believed or didn’t believe that I would make it to the US Ski Team and win World Cups someday, I just remember watching videos of the best skiers in the world and admiring their skiing so much that I decided I wanted to try my best to get to that level.

CHM: Talk about how you feel when you’re flying down the mountain on your skis.

SHIFFRIN: The feeling of flinging yourself down the mountain can be pretty scary sometimes, but when I do it well and I feel like I have the perfect balance between reckless abandon and control, it is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt.

CHM: How do you prepare for the season?

SHIFFRIN: Preparation for each race season includes a LOT of time working out and getting stronger and fitter, and quite a bit of time on the snow as well in places like New Zealand and Chile. I’ll spend around 5-6 hours per day doing conditioning work in the off-season and we have two ski camps per summer that last anywhere between two to four weeks each. I get on snow in Europe for the last prep-camp in the beginning of October for about three weeks of training before the first race of the season at the end of October.

CHM: How do you stay in shape during the off-season?

SHIFFRIN: I’m in the gym lifting weights about four days per week, and I do a lot of biking, running, sprinting, agility, balance and core for my sessions surrounding the strength workouts.

(Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2016)
(Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2016)

CHM: Talk a bit about your family.

SHIFFRIN: My brother is the reason I got into ski racing. I always followed in his footsteps and when he started racing at our local club I naturally wanted to do the same. He’s two years older than I am so I always saw it as a welcome challenge to ski with him and try to beat him, but he didn’t let that happen often! My parents are both great skiers, and they both raced a bit between high school and college, so it was a natural path for me to become a sufficient skier as well. However I think the greatest lessons my parents have taught me were not necessarily specific to skiing, but about life and hard work in general. I learned from them that if I enjoy something and I want to do it well I need to work hard at it and study it. They also taught me that most things are more fun to do when you are able to do them well, so it’s worth putting in the extra time in the beginning when you’re learning something new in order to have more fun doing it in the long run. Tennis for instance, is so much more fun when you are able to hit a good rally or reach certain shots that you can only reach because you’ve put in the effort and have the skill. It’s the same mentality that I’ve taken into skiing and it’s a huge reason why I am where I am today.

CHM: If you were not a ski racer, what would you be doing?

SHIFFRIN: There are a lot of things I could be doing. I also love to play tennis and soccer so I might have pursued those sports more seriously if I decided not to ski. Or I would probably be in college getting ready to graduate, maybe majoring in something science-related because I always enjoyed science in school. I feel like the possibilities are endless, which is what makes life really exciting.

CHM: Favorite run in Vail?

SHIFFRIN: Main Arena, where all of the training normally takes place. I really like training there but the trail is super fun to freeski on as well when there is some space between courses and the snow is good. It’s one of the greatest places to arc GS turns.

CHM: Favorite song?

SHIFFRIN: Runaway (U & I) [Svidden & Jarly Remix] – Galantis or The Rifle’s Spiral – The Shins. I have a lot of other favorite songs as well but those are two that I won’t ever skip over.

CHM: Favorite food?

SHIFFRIN: Pasta with a tomato, mozzarella, basil sauce, or Thanksgiving stuffing … or maybe chocolate cake.

CHM: Favorite restaurant in Vail?

SHIFFRIN: La Botega.

CHM: Favorite activity/activities when you’re not on skis?

SHIFFRIN: Tennis, or pretty much anything that involves hanging out with my family.

CHM: Who are some of the most fun people you’ve had an opportunity to ski with?

SHIFFRIN: My family and friends. There’s nothing like feeling totally at ease on a chairlift ride with the people closest to you and then bombing down the mountain with them by your side.

CHM: Role models in skiing?

SHIFFRIN: Bode Miller, Janica Kostelic, Anja Paerson, Marlies Schild, Lindsey Vonn (Kildow), Marcel Hirscher.

CHM: Role models in life?

SHIFFRIN: Steve Jobs, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, Adele, Serena Williams.

CHM: Advice for younger kids just getting started in the world of ski racing?

SHIFFRIN: Ski racing can be really tough – there’s a lot of preparation, equipment, and work involved in being a good racer – but because it’s so challenging it can also be one of the most gratifying things that you will ever do. Enjoy it, enjoy the friends you make who will often be some of your best friends for the rest of your life, and enjoy the work that you have to put into it. Ski racing is like a dry-run for the rest of life no matter what level you are at, so really take advantage of the lessons you learn and take them with you wherever you go.

Josh Kroenke – The Next Generation of Colorado Sports

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BY ELLEN GRAY

denver-hotel-magazine-josh-kroenke-102-1

JOSH KROENKE CHANGES THE FACE OF DENVER’S SPORTING SCENE.

At just 36 years of age, Josh Kroenke has  garnered a reputation as a savvy businessman who understands what it takes to operate a fast-paced, highly successful sports franchise. With boundless enthusiasm he has learned on his feet what it takes to run a successful mix of four professional sports teams, juggle an incredible number of personalities, yet still maintain a humble, can-do outlook that enables him to keep it all together. Along the way, he has earned the respect of seasoned peers in a highly competitive industry.

    As the son of Stan Kroenke, one of America’s most-recognized leaders in the professional sports world, Josh Kroenke was introduced to the industry as a kid of about 13 or 14, when his father became involved with the Rams. “This was my first exposure to high-level athletics and the business behind them,” he says. “Ever since then I always had aspirations to be involved in professional sports.” What he could never have imagined though was the turn this would take, propelling his family into the global sporting spotlight. From his early days playing competitive basketball on a full scholarship at the University of Missouri to an internship with the NBA league office, Kroenke learned all about the business and today is well equipped in his role as President and Governor of both the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. In addition, he serves as an Alternate Governor for the Colorado Rapids (major league soccer) and serves on the Board of Directors for Arsenal Football Club in London.

      Recently we sat down with Kroenke to learn a bit more about what makes this man, who arguably is one of sport’s most up-and-coming leaders … such an energetic force at so young an age.

CHM: What do you like most about your role with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE?)

JK: I like meeting new people. Whether it’s a season ticket holder or an owner, a team president or a coach, a general manager or intern just starting a career, I have found a lot of enjoyment watching people grow personally and professionally to better themselves and their families. Each of them has taught me a lot over the years and hopefully I have taught them a few things as well.  

      Interacting with players across our teams is a lot of fun too because I get to meet a lot of people from very different walks of life. Gabriel Landeskog left home in Sweden as a teenager to pursue his NHL dream. Emmanuel Mudiay was born in a war-torn Congo and at age five fled with his two older brothers to meet their mother in Dallas to start a new life. These are exceptional young men and are examples of the perspective you gain when you have the privilege of being around them. They have learned and will continue to learn both as players and as people. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch our athletes represent themselves, their teams, and the City of Denver in a very positive way.

     Our company and teams are full of phenomenal people and competitors, all of whom I have the pleasure of getting to know in my role, and for that I am extremely grateful. 

CHM: What is your greatest accomplishment or what do you hope to accomplish in coming months?

JK: That’s a tough one since professionally I won’t feel we have accomplished anything of substance until our teams are consistently in “the conversation” of teams that can win a championship. That requires a lot of building, patience, and also a bit of luck to get there. There are little things we have accomplished and are currently doing that I feel will get us to where we aspire to be, but we can’t skip steps. We have won championships before in the NFL, NHL, and MLS and we won’t be satisfied until we are consistently at that championship level across the board.

CHM: Was being involved in the sports world an ambition of yours when you were growing up?

JK: I always had aspirations to be involved in professional sports. But if I said that I knew my family was going to wind up with the presence we now have in the global sporting community, I would be lying to you.  Soccer was my first love but basketball was the sport I chose to play competitively. Through the basketball experience that continued all the way through college at the University of Missouri and an internship with the NBA league office, I learned a lot about high-level athletics and everything it entailed.  So when I came into my role in 2010, I was about as prepared as I could have been.

CHM: Favorite spectator sport?

JK: My favorite sport to watch is golf. Skiing in the winter and playing golf in the summer have become my outlets to take my mind off of things when I’m stressed, and watching golf has become a very fun and relaxing thing for me. I guess with KSE being involved in so many different sports and paying such close attention at all times to different leagues, records, rankings, and standings, it’s nice just to be able to be a fan of something and enjoy the result no matter what happens. I have a favorite player or two and know a few guys on the PGA Tour, so it’s fun to just kick back and cheer for a couple different guys while admiring how dedicated they are to their craft. I wound up next to David Duval at our club driving range once and just listening to the sound his golf club makes during contact lets you know the pros are playing a completely different game than the rest of us amateurs!

CHM: What have you observed about Denver fans?

JK: Denver fans can be defined by one word … passion. Passion is a wonderful thing to have because without it, you simply have no one interested and a passive fan base is definitely not a strong fan base. Fans want to see our teams succeed, so for me, that passion can go both ways. When our teams are winning more games than they are losing, fans are much easier to interact with as they see the vision and can easily get behind a winning team. But when the teams are not as successful, let’s just say the interactions aren’t quite as much fun. I always joke with my family that when the teams are winning all of the focus will rightly be on the coaches, players, and management. But when the teams are losing, the focus and blame will come our way as people will expect changes to be made. It’s not the most fun of dynamics at times, but when we achieve success it’s a feeling that is hard to describe because you can feel the amazing city of Denver behind you everywhere you go.

CHM: What changes can we expect to see with regard to the upcoming season? How competitive do you feel the Nuggets and Avalanche will be this year?

JK: I think generally both teams will be young, very competitive, and should be competing for playoff spots. There are numerous highly talented young players throughout both rosters with a nice mix of veterans in each locker room to ensure strong cultures. Both coaches are very disciplined and very structured on a daily basis and are not afraid to hold each and every player accountable. However, with the accountability comes a personal touch that I think allows our players to understand we care about them as people as much as we do their contributions to our teams. I believe truly caring about them as human beings is incredibly important.

     On the Avalanche side, we have a first-year head coach in Jared Bednar and we’re incredibly excited to have him join our organization. He has been successful at every level he’s coached, and we feel he can have a very positive impact on the roster. We have a very talented group of young players we have been drafting over the past several years and they are each going to be expected to step into larger roles going forward to have success as a group. We signed both Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie to multi-year contract extensions and are planning to have a few veteran defensemen around to help with some of the newer, younger faces along our blue line. We are near the limit of the salary cap and have been drafting well over the past several years, but as I joked with a group of fans a few weeks ago, we can’t make Nathan (who just turned 21) turn 25 years old tomorrow. Matt Duchene has been a huge part of our organization for quite some time now and just posted his first 30-goal season last year at age 25. People forget we’re drafting these kids at 18 years old and sometimes patience and discipline are needed in order to achieve success.  

     While the Avalanche are young, it’s possible the Nuggets are even younger. Michael Malone is entering his second season as head coach and while one would say we didn’t have a successful record last season (33-49), we did it with an eye on the future, with several first- and second-year players. We are expecting some internal growth from the young players and are hopeful that through continuity and hard work, the young talent will continue to improve and raise our ceiling for success, both now and in the future. Danilo Gallinari is a veteran who had a fabulous season in 2015-16, and I look for him to continue to build upon his individual success. Wilson Chandler was out the entire last season due to a hip injury in the preseason, and we almost look at him as a free agent signing because he will contribute heavily this year. We felt we drafted well, and with our incoming rookies combining with a group of youngsters who made the NBA All Rookie team in 2015-16 (Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay), we are excited about the possibilities heading into the future.

CHM: Which of your players do you think have the most impact on the community?

JK: One of the things we are most proud of is the impact all our players have on the community. Each player does things throughout the community on their own initiatives through team and league-sponsored events. A lot of them have their own personal stories that will bring awareness to specific organizations or illnesses. I believe every player feels pride that this is not just a place they play, but also where they live and the effect they have in sharing in the Colorado community.

     The Colorado Avalanche hockey club visits area hospitals annually and spends time with patients and their families during the holidays. Our Denver Nuggets organization puts on a clinic for Special Olympics Colorado, giving more than 100 Special Olympics athletes a day of fun in basketball each year. The Colorado Rapids and Colorado Mammoth teams create month-long events to help raise funds and support cancer patients. Our teams host numerous events and donate their time in appearances annually, making a positive impact in the city. One of our biggest events I am able to participate in alongside all four teams is the Mile High Dreams Gala. It highlights our players and coaches by providing a unique opportunity for the community to engage with each team directly while raising money for Kroenke Sports Charities. (Note: This year’s Mile High Dreams Gala will be held on November 14, 2016. For reservation information, please visit the community section of team website.)

CHM: What is fueling your enthusiasm right now?

JK: We are knee deep into the MLS season and I look forward to the playoff potential at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (DGSP). Soccer fans are some of the most passionate to watch and DSGP is a site to remember. The Colorado Rapids recently brought in Team USA goalkeeper Tim Howard this past offseason, and they have been at or near the top of the standings all season. We are incredibly excited about their playoff prospects. Tim has been a great addition to both the team and the community and we’re thrilled to have him join our club. 

CHM: Favorite thing about living in Colorado?

JK: Where do I start? Between the friendly people and the great weather I think I have everything I need! Having lived in Denver since 2007 it has been incredible to watch the city change in such a short period of time. The growth around town is exciting to say the least. From my office at Pepsi Center I can see several high-rise cranes at work throughout downtown, and it has been astonishing to watch the Cherry Creek area change. I have a few friends who are working on projects over in the RiNo district of downtown and I think that area is going to be tremendous going forward as well. However, don’t lose sight of why I’m really here, which is the mountains. My parents have a duplex in Steamboat Springs and they put me on skis when I was two. My older sister was getting to do something I wasn’t, so they put me on skis to stop me from crying and ever since, I have had a love for Colorado.

CHM: Talk about family and what is important to you? What did you learn from your father?

JK: I am a very family-oriented guy and along with my family I have a love for dogs. Most people who know me or see me around Pepsi Center and the city know I love to be with my two bulldogs, Fletcher and Arnie. They come to the office with me most days and travel with me often. They create a calm atmosphere during the heavy work hours, long seasons, and I can’t imagine my life without them. 

I think the main thing my father instilled in me at a young age was hard work. And not only just hard work, but when you fail, work harder. Whether it’s something business-related or in your personal life, there is no substitute for going out and working hard. I try to apply this in all aspects of my life and you need to understand that failure will happen at times, but by continuing to work hard through difficult times you will better prepare yourself for when a similar situation arises in the future and hopefully you’ll achieve success.  

CHM: If you could be doing any other job, what would it be?

JK: I think I’d be a fishing guide on a river somewhere or a ski instructor. I would enjoy the daily outdoor aspect of the jobs and I would also enjoy meeting new people and teaching them a skill they didn’t already have. Fishing or skiing on a daily basis sounds like a lot of fun.

CHM: Favorite Denver restaurant?

JK: My Brother’s Bar. My dad first took me there when I moved to Denver in 2007 and I immediately fell in love with the place. I enjoy restaurants and bars that have a lot of character, and I would say that My Brother’s Bar has as much character as any place I’ve been to in Denver. My usual order is a Double Ralphie (Bison Burger) with cheese and a side of fries/onion rings combo basket. They also have unbelievable chili that will tempt me when I’m feeling exceptionally hungry. It’s close to Pepsi Center, so it makes it an easy lunch spot and I love to drag anyone and everyone there with me. The Cherry Cricket is also a personal favorite. They both have options for people of all tastes and diets. I enjoy a good burger every now and then!

CHM: Favorite vacation spot?

JK: This is a tough one but I’d have to say Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I love the mountains and Jackson is rugged and just far enough away from Denver where I feel like I’m escaping somewhere more remote. As Coloradans know, the mountains are a special place and the Teton Range is one that I find to be incredibly inspiring.  I really enjoy sneaking up there a few times during the winter as the people are wonderful and the skiing is truly world class … steep and deep!

SUPERBOWL!

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Denver Broncos NFL Super Bowl 50 parade in Denver, Colo. February 9, 2016 (Photo by Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)
Denver Broncos NFL Super Bowl 50 parade in Denver, Colo. February 9, 2016 (Photo by Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

By Brian Howell

Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway and head coach Gary Kubiak shared a laugh and a hearty embrace as they stood on the podium and awaited the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy.

As they hugged, Kubiak said to his boss and long-time friend, “You can win it all kind of ways, baby! You can win it all kind of ways!”

On that night, Feb. 7, the Broncos came away from Super Bowl 50 with a 24-10 win against the Carolina Panthers, capping what was truly one of the most unusual championship seasons in NFL history.

With a new head coach, a banged-up quarterback writing his final chapter and an offensive line that struggled to block anybody, the Broncos somehow managed to ride their sensational defense and get just enough from the offense to come away with their third Super Bowl championship.

“I think that the credit goes to the players buying into what we were doing, understanding that we could get it done this way (and) that there’s not just one way to win,” Kubiak said after the Super Bowl. “You can win doing some of the things we’ve been doing. I think it’s just (to) their credit (and) hanging in there. Over the course of this past month, they’ve been committed to getting it done, and everyone has been all the way in.”

in action against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara, Calif. July 2, 2016 (Photo by Trevor Brown, Jr./ Denver Broncos)
in action against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara, Calif. July 2, 2016 (Photo by Trevor Brown, Jr./ Denver Broncos)

What made this such a unique championship was how the Broncos balanced an all-time great defense with an awkward mess at quarterback. They did it all while adjusting to a new coaching staff, as Kubiak became just the fourth head coach in history to win a Super Bowl in his first season with the team.

The Broncos figured to be in good shape at quarterback with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. Arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Manning has more passing yards (71,940) and touchdowns (539) than anyone who has ever played the game.

The 2015 Manning was unrecognizable, however. Instead of carrying his teams to victories and slicing up defenses, the 39-year-old Manning was more of a liability. Through eight games, the Broncos were 7-1, but Manning had thrown just nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Game 9, at home against Kansas City, was supposed to be a celebration for Manning, who picked up the last three yards he needed to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer. The rest of the game was a nightmare, though, as Manning threw four interceptions. After the fourth pick – his league-leading 17th – early in the third quarter, Manning was benched for the first time in his career.

Various injuries led to Manning’s poor performance and benching, Kubiak said, and the Broncos handed the keys to the offense to young Brock Osweiler.

“I’ve prepared for this moment, obviously, for a very long time,” said Osweiler, who had, to that point, spent his entire three-and-a-half-year career as Manning’s backup. “I never wasted a single day. It’s a dream come true. It really is.”

Over the next six weeks, Osweiler guided the offense and led the Broncos to a 4-2 record, including a win against the undefeated New England Patriots. While not spectacular, Osweiler was better than Manning.

Manning spent most of those six weeks working by himself as he nursed his injuries and prepared to play. Many people questioned whether Manning would ever play again, especially as Osweiler appeared to lock up the job.

Manning, however, wasn’t about to let that dreadful game against the Chiefs be the final image of him as a player.

For the Week 17 finale against San Diego, Manning was again in uniform, this time as a backup for the first time in his career. Osweiler and the offense sputtered that afternoon, and Kubiak added a bit more drama to the situation. Osweiler was benched in the third quarter, and Manning rallied the Broncos to a 27-20 victory.

As the drama at quarterback unfolded during the regular season, the defense was Denver’s saving grace. Led by charismatic linebacker Von Miller and veteran coordinator Wade Phillips, the Broncos had the best defense in the NFL in 2015. The Broncos led the league with 52 sacks and gave up fewer yards than anyone.

It was the defenses’ knack for making game-winning, game-changing and game-saving plays that was most remarkable.

action against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, February 07, 2016. Photo by Gabriel Christus
action against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, February 07, 2016.
Photo by Gabriel Christus

Cornerback Aqib Talib had a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown that keyed a Week 1 win against Baltimore. In Week 2, Bradley Roby scooped up a Kansas City fumble in the final 30 seconds of the game and ran it back 21 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Interception returns for touchdowns keyed three other Broncos wins. Twice, the Broncos secured wins by forcing fumbles in the final minute of regulation or overtime. Seven times, they held the opposition to 15 points or less.

“We almost led the league in every category, so we’ve got to say this is a special, all-time defense,” Phillips said.

After a stellar regular season, the Broncos defense was eager for the postseason. So was Manning, who had been declared the starter once again.

 “Any time something is taken away from you due to health, it does (mean more to get it back),” Manning said before the playoffs began. “When you’re not out there playing, it certainly does remind you how fortunate you are when you have the opportunity to be healthy and be ready to play.”

Manning wasn’t brilliant during the playoffs, but he did his part to help the Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-16, in the divisional round, and the Patriots, 20-18, in the AFC championship game.

The defense was exceptional in both games, forcing a pivotal fumble against the Steelers, and battering Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Somehow, the Broncos had cooked up a recipe to return to the Super Bowl for the eighth time in franchise history.

For Kubiak, it was his sixth Super Bowl with Denver. As Elway’s backup quarterback in the late 1980s, Kubiak got to three Super Bowls. In 1997 and 1998, Kubiak was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. Those late ‘90s teams, led by Elway at quarterback, were exceptional on offense and defense and won both Super Bowls.

This Super Bowl, played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., proved to be a perfect microcosm of Denver’s season.

The Manning-led offense struggled – gaining just 194 yards, the fewest total ever by a Super Bowl champion – while the defense turned in a dominating performance.

Against the top-ranked Panthers’ offense, the Broncos registered a Super Bowl-record seven sacks, with Miller, who was named the game’s MVP, getting 2.5 of those. On Miller’s first sack, he stripped the ball from Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and the Broncos’ Malik Jackson fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. On Miller’s last sack, he again stripped the ball from Newton; the Broncos recovered and set up the offense for one last touchdown.

“It’s so surreal,” Jackson said of winning the championship. “I was here two years ago when we lost it (to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII). Just to have that feeling from this to that, it’s just awesome. It’s truly a blessing just to be with these guys, be a part of this and be able to kind of go out there and dominate like we did today.”

action against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, February 07, 2016. Photo by Gabriel Christus
action against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, February 07, 2016.
Photo by Gabriel Christus

Ultimately, it was Manning in the spotlight. After 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts – including a victory in Super Bowl XLI – he was released in 2012 because the Colts were unsure if he could recover from a neck injury that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season. Manning knew he could still play, though, and he came to Denver in 2012.

For three years, from 2012-14, Manning put up insane, record-breaking numbers, but he and the Broncos always fell short of that championship goal. Finally, he and the Broncos completed their quest together in 2015.

No, Manning didn’t play well this past season, but his final moment as a player, clutching the Lombardi Trophy in his hands, was befitting a man who had been sensational for so long. One month after the Super Bowl, Manning announced his retirement from pro football.

“It was extremely gratifying to finish with a world championship,” Manning said. “There’s no question this was a unique season and it had plenty of ups and downs.”

For the Broncos and their fans, though, the season finished on an up, and for the first time in 17 years Denver celebrated a Super Bowl championship. And, boy, did the fans celebrate. Two days after the Super Bowl, an estimated 1 million Broncos fans flooded the streets of downtown Denver for a victory parade.

“In terms of raw emotions from fans and raw passion, there’s really nothing like it,” Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said. “We are very, very lucky to have the support of this entire region, this community and the best fans in the NFL.”

In 2015, the Broncos had not only the best fans, but the best team, as well.

Troy Story

in Dining & Nightlife/Front Range Dining & Nightlife/Profiles/Uncategorized by
Chef Troy Guard on cooking, community, and taking the Denver dining scene to infinity … and beyond

By Monica Parpal Stockbridge

Troy Guard_Headshot_to useIf you dine out in Denver with any regularity, you’ve heard of Troy Guard. He’s the one behind Larimer Square’s much-lauded TAG restaurant and nearby Los Chingones taco joint. He’s the one who opened TAG Burger Bar and, later this year, a second location in the former Sunnyside Burger Bar spot. He’s the guy we just saw take home first prize at Cochon 555 in March — that traveling culinary competition centered around heritage pork.Troy Guard is, to many, a rock star here in the Denver dining community. Between his culinary innovation, his ever-growing restaurant portfolio and his ability to balance a family through it all, it seems there’s nothing he can’t do. But if you ask him about it, he’ll tell you that he’s just a regular guy.

“I think of myself like anyone else,” Guard says. “I put on my jeans the same way every day, and tie my shoes, and go to work. [Cooking] is just what I love to do every day.”TAG - Dining Room (1)

Let’s back up to a time before Troy Guard was a Denver household name. The eldest of five kids, he grew up on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Cooking was a big part of his life long before he knew he wanted to be a professional chef. “My mom was a flight attendant, so she was gone a lot. I helped out around the house and in the kitchen,” Guard remembers. His father was — and still is — a barbecue chef on the weekends, cooking kalua pigs in underground imu pits. Guard describes a particularly special holiday tradition involving his father’s Hawaiian-style barbecue. “Every Thanksgiving, to this day, he digs a hole and tells everyone to show up at six in the morning with their turkeys. He wraps them in aluminum and chicken wire, puts them in the fire pit, and covers them with banana leaves, burlap sacks, rocks, and dirt. Six hours later, the turkeys are done.”

An homage to his father, Mister Tuna will open in mid-2016. One of Guard’s newest concepts, Mister Tuna, will open in the INDUSTRY business and community development in RiNo this summer. Somewhat contrary to its moniker, the restaurant will focus on wood-fired and rotisserie grilled meats and Mediterranean fare. The best part? In place of a raw bar, Guard plans to install a pickle bar where guests can purchase vinegar-soaked novelties like pickled Colorado peaches. “I am always trying to do things a little differently,” Guard says.

Although memories like these continue to inspire Guard’s cooking today, it wasn’t until he was 16, when his parents thought it was high time he get a job. that he found himself in a restaurant kitchen. “It was the first job I could find that was closest to my house,” he says, “so I kind of fell into it.” Guard started as a dishwasher and worked his way up, all the while admiring the gritty cooks who ruled the kitchen. “The were the renegades, the badasses,” Guard remembers. “I wanted to be like them.”

Guard continued working in restaurant kitchens through high school and junior college. He’d moved to the mainland at age seven, and at 21 decided to move back to Maui to work for culinary legend Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s. “At the time, east meets west cooking was just coming into its own,” Guard recalls. “No one else was really doing fusion cooking, which was why it was so exciting.” It was here that he experienced what he calls his “aha moment.”

“The dish was Opakapaka,” Guard says, describing the Hawaiian pink snapper swimming in a creamy beurre blanc-based Thai curry and topped with spicy stir-fried vegetables. Guard had never tasted anything like it. “I thought I knew how to cook, but I realized then that I knew nothing.”

Working at Roy’s was formative for Guard. He learned about farm-to-table cooking before it became a common term. He bought tuna and opah from fishermen right off the docks. He learned to use fresh tomatoes, onions, papayas and guavas, all from local farmers. “I had never seen or done anything like that before,” he says. “I started from scratch again, and worked my way up.”

And up he went. After three years at Roy’s on Maui, Guard moved to Hong Kong to open another location there. “If I was going to learn Asian food, why not live in Asia?” he remembers thinking. From there, he went to Tokyo, then Singapore, then New York. He was young and unfettered, moving from one adventure to the next. “I didn’t care how much I got paid,” he says. “I just cooked, and it felt really good.”

By the time he reached his early thirties, Guard found himself in Denver working with notable chefs like Richard Sandoval to open Zengo, helping to create a never-before-seen Latin American and Asian fusion restaurant concept. He later opened Nine75 and Ocean, and eventually began to consider opening a restaurant of his own in the Mile High City. “I thought, if I never try it, I’ll always say ‘what if.’ I figured that, if I failed, I could always get another job,” he says. “I went with my gut.”

In 2009, Guard opened TAG, christened with his own initials (that “A” stands for Atherton, a family name). This first restaurant aimed at achieving his goal for a chef-driven, innovative destination with inventive items like Taco Sushi and Flash Seared Hamachi with Pop Rocks, anchored by classic NY Strip and seared and confited Canadian Duck. If time is any indicator, he’s succeeded — yet he remembers being challenged immediately by the increased demand and plunging economy. “Going from chef to owner meant that everything was 10 times harder. I was constantly learning, growing, educating myself, and adapting … otherwise, I could have closed the place,” he recalls somberly. “But the next thing I knew, someone was asking me to open another spot.”

Just like that, Guard found himself laying the foundation of an empire. After TAG came TAG Raw Bar, which later morphed into Bubu — a fresh fast-casual eatery with two locations, named for the snack-worthy puffed rice treat Guard grew up eating in Hawaii. After that, Madison Street opGuard and Grace Food + Staff-45ened in Congress Park, later updated to TAG Burger Bar to focus on his winning burgers. 2013 was a big year, when Guard opened his graffitied taco joint called Los Chingones; a dessert bar called Sugarmill with partner Noah French; and an upscale, wood-fired steakhouse called Guard & Grace. He hints at expanding the latter out of state in the near future. Los Chingones has proven so successful that a second opened in DTC, and yet another is slated for Stapleton — where he’ll also open a new breakfast restaurant this year. As if that weren’t enough, he’s got a Mediterranean concept planned for River North (RiNo) in June, and a family-friendly restaurant will open its doors on the corner of 32nd Avenue and Perry Street in early 2017.

“It’s all been very organic,” says Guard of this seemingly breakneck growth. “I go by my gut. I have to believe it’s the right spot in the right neighborhood and deliver what the neighborhood needs. It’s a thoughtful process. And so far, so good.”

Through it all, Guard still sees TAG as his flagship restaurant. “We’re on Larimer Square, the best square in the city, and there’s a lot to live up to.” He goes on to say that all managers and chefs who work at his restaurants are trained in the TAG cultural values. As Guard put it, it all goes back to his Hawaiian roots.

“In Hawaii, we call it ‘ohana,” Guard explains. “Family.” He describes how he works to create an environment of humility, passion, and caring in every one of his restaurants — and at home, too, where he’s raising two kids with his wife and industry accomplice, Nikki. Even his restaurants resonate that idea of family: Guard & Grace is named for his daughter, Grace; Los Chingones is an homage to his brothers; and that Mediterranean restaurant we mentioned? “It’s going to be called Mister Tuna, after my dad’s nickname in Hawaii. He was always in the ocean, diving and fishing. The restaurant honors him, and the name makes me feel good.”Troy Guard_Headshot

Those values of family and community are anchored deep into Guard’s psyche — and his business practices. Each year, he contributes tens of thousands of dollars to charity, and he recently recruited his management staff for a Habitat for Humanity build. On top of that, for the last six years Guard has participated in the Taste of the NFL — a charitable culinary event held every year on Super Bowl eve. And oh, do Guard’s eyes light up when he talks football. “When we got Peyton Manning, everyone got so excited. It only took one guy to get everyone talking about the Denver Broncos again,” he says. “It really only takes one person to make a difference.”

Recently, Guard harnessed that excitement and launched the Taste of the Broncos annual tasting event at Invesco Field at Mile High, with samples from more than 30 restaurants and mingling Broncos players to boot. (We can only hope that Guard’s food will be enough to keep Peyton in attendance.)

Of course, Guard’s restaurants aren’t the only booming developments in Denver. The past few years have seen unprecedented growth in the city’s restaurant offerings — Guard cites Acorn and Biju’s Little Curry Shop among his favorite places to grab a bite — along with an almost alarming increase in population and housing developments. Even from inside the TAG lobby, Guard can see the industrial cranes and towering ironwork expanding into a shrinking downtown. “Change is inevitable,” Guard says. “I embrace it. In my opinion, Denver doesn’t get enough credit for how cool and dynamic it is. I’m glad I was here to see it and be in the midst of it all.”

We’re glad you’re here, too, Troy. With chefs like you, Denver’s culinary reputation is going nowhere but up. To infinity … and beyond.


Monica Parpal Stockbridge
Monica Stockbridge is a Denver-based writer and editor who has covered the food and dining scene for publications like DiningOut magazine and Moon travel guidebooks. As a contributing writer for Colorado Hotel Magazine, Monica writes chef profiles and hotel stories that reveal inspiring mile-high experiences for visitors and locals alike.

GUS KENWORTHY

in Profiles by
Gus Kenworthy

X Games Freeskier Shines as Telluride’s Hometown Hero

Chalk up another win for Olympian and X Games competitor Gus Kenworthy, who recently won annual back-to-back championships in the slopestyle competition at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo. His is a household name among fans of the freestyle skiing circuit, who thrill to the sight of his big air and intense moves, an elite athlete who has been hailed as the top freeskier on the planet. Clearly, Kenworthy’s daring feats are not for the faint of heart, requiring an enormous amount of grit and guts and an undeniable love of action and adventure.

Kenworthy grew up in the picturesque ski town of Telluride, Colorado, where he was a fixture in the terrain park, hitting rails and jumps until the lifts closed down. In his early days of competition he earned a reputation for “guinea-pigging,” meaning he loved to try out novel tricks and jumps before any of his competitors or teammates. He turned pro at 16 years old, when a YouTube video landed him some sponsors.

Today Kenworthy is widely regarded as one of the sport’s most well-rounded freestyle skiers, and looks forward to showing his prowess in Slopestyle, SuperPipe and Big Air at the upcoming X Games Aspen. Thus far, he has earned a Bronze at the X Games, but his performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he took Silver, reveals he is determined to compete … and to win big. Winning the Silver represented more than an individual accomplishment for Kenworthy. At the games, he and fellow teammates Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper swept the podium in freestyle skiing, an event that has happened just twice before in Olympic history.

Freestyle skiing mania swept the nation upon the athletes’ return, and Kenworthy soon became a favorite on the media circuit, with appearances on Today, The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show With David Letterman. His handsome face graced the covers of magazines such as People and US Weekly, and he and his fellow medalists were pictured on the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box.

Kenworthy has wowed fans across the globe, who watch in awe as he performs jumps and twists from high up in a style that is unique and seemingly impossible. Yet his bravado on the slopes is coupled with a highly endearing side, evidenced by his rescue of five stray dogs, a mother and four puppies, which were abandoned in Sochi. Kenworthy garnered national media attention when he remained in Sochi well after the 2014 Winter Olympics wound down, bringing to light the growing number of stray dogs in that part of the world.

A few months ago, Kenworthy once again made headlines when he came out as gay, a courageous move that rocked the world of extreme sports. In an interview with Alyssa Roenigk for ESPN Magazine, the 24-year-old explains why he finally decided to tell the truth about why he wanted fans to know who he is. “I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do. I didn’t want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world.”

For Kenworthy, his public announcement represented a breakthrough in an industry that prides itself on image. As he told ESPN, “They say it’s a community of individuals and everyone is doing their own thing and it’s not a team sport, so you get to be yourself. But you don’t, really. Between the contests and the

shoots, everyone’s always skiing and training together. But it is the same, it’s totally like that: Be creative, be yourself, be all this stuff, but also literally just be like everybody else.”

Then again, Kenworthy’s willingness to stretch the boundaries of what is “safe” really has never been the obstacle that would prevent him from moving to the next level, whether in his personal life or in a professional capacity.

Kenworthy’s rise to the top nearly ground to a halt following last year’s X Games in Aspen. Heralded as the one to watch, his presence was everywhere, on promotional materials and signs surrounding the entire event. Yet he failed to medal in any of his competitions, and even contemplated quitting the sport he so loved. Convinced by his father and agent to get back in the game, Kenworthy placed third in halfpipe at the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix, and two weeks later won the inaugural ski big air event and the Shaun White Air + Style event at the Rose Bowl. Then in February, competing in an event in Park City, Utah, he made history, debuting a new trick, a double cork 1260. In the end, he performed the first-ever run that included four different double corks, which was lauded as the greatest performance in ski halfpipe history. He finished the season in first place, named by the Association of Freeskiing Professionals(AFP) overall champion for the fifth consecutive year.

As the X Games Aspen nears, Kenworthy is determined to continue making history, and to show the world that he is at the top of his game. He comes in as a triple threat in Slopestyle, SuperPipe and Big Air. As the five-time consecutive AFP overall champion and Silver medalist at the Sochi Olympics, he has been deemed the one to beat.

But the X Games are much, much more than just another competition for Kenworthy. Indeed, these games are personal, and carry an intense meaning for Kenworthy that goes well beyond the strive to win. “X Games is the pinnacle event,” he says. “I grew up watching it, wanting to compete there, and winning Gold. A Gold Medal at X Games is still my ultimate goal in skiing. The Olympic Games happen every four years but X Games takes place every year and continues to be the most important event in our sport. It’s my favorite weekend of the season.”

A lot of pressure on this 24-year-old superstar. But then again, Gus Kenworthy proves time and again that he is more than up to the challenge.

RACING THROUGH LIFE

in Profiles by

Champion ski racer Julia Mancuso embraces the fast lane.DSC_2295

A child is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer can be fleeting, subject to the changing whims of youthful dreams. Yet once in a while childhood ambition evolves into what someone does become, not due to a lucky break, but the result of a determined will that knows no bounds.

Olympic skier and World Cup medalist Julia Mancuso epitomizes that fairytale, embodied in the spirit of a woman who understood as a little girl that one day, yes, she would go for the gold. And that is who Mancuso is: a vivid, vibrant dream turned reality, racing through life and challenging herself every step of the way to do more, to be more, to have it all.

At 30 years of age, Mancuso has won more medals than any other Olympic female alpine ski racer. Her remarkable wins include a gold, two silver and one bronze medal in the Olympics, and two silver and three bronze in the World Cup Championships. Yet unlike her counterparts in the racing world, “Super Jules” Mancuso today remains a bit aloof from the spotlight, preferring to live life on her terms, and to have a blast in the process.

Growing up in California, Mancuso frequented the slopes of Squaw Valley, and at a very young age was chasing her older sister down the hill determined to one day gain the lead. Her racing career took off as soon as she turned 15, the age she had to be to qualify for a spot on the World Cup team. Her first race in 2003 was in St. Moritz, where she was one of the youngest racers to compete. Her first podium appearance came just two years later in 2005, when she took two bronze medals in the Super-G and Giant Slalom. In 2006 she competed in the Olympics in Torino, Italy, experiencing equipment malfunctions that would have discouraged a less-competitive spirit. But not Mancuso, who pulled out all the stops and skied to Olympic Gold in the Giant Slalom, marking her first career win in the big event.

 

Twenty-one years old, and ah, the memory. “It was foggy and snowy, which gave me an edge. As a kid I trained and skied in all conditions, which taught me to be more precise in my focus. So even though it was foggy and visibility was tough, I knew the snow was perfect an2013 LADIES WC DOWNHILL TRAINING AND RACE AND SUPER G AT BEAVER CREEK, COLORADO SKI ACTION, FINISH LINE, AWARDS, AND GENERAL CROWDd I let that guide me.  And once I accomplished that, I knew it was just going to keep getting better,” she reflects with a smile. The irony, she reflects, is that her biggest win came so early in her career. “It was like my goals shifted backward. It was my childhood dream to win Olympic Gold, and that happened first! And that taught me that it’s so much easier to be on the podium and in the Top 5 than to get the big win!”

This season marks her seventh World Cup Championship tour. For skiers of Mancuso’s caliber, it’s not enough to make the team. With just four racers per event competing from each country, the only guaranteed spot on the team goes to the reigning world champ, just as in the Olympics. That means each year is a new beginning, a fresh start or, as in Mancuso’s case, a continued dedication to the sport that long ago stole her heart.

“People don’t understand the World Cup Tour,” Mancuso begins. “We race every weekend once it starts. It’s different than other sports because your ranking is based on your starting position, and every single race counts toward your overall standing and where you start on the course.”

The tour extends several months from Thanksgiving though mid-March, exacting long days of practice, workouts and training. The tour kicks off each year in Colorado because of the good early snowfall; the women’s first official race is usually held in Aspen; the men’s in Beaver Creek. After the North American leg it’s off to Europe, where the team travels and competes for the remainder of the season. The term “vacation” is never a consideration for these athletes; no break for Christmas, and a big race on December 28th. But for Mancuso the long hours and countless races are part of the fun.

The fact that Colorado figures so strongly in her racing career is a huge bonus for Mancuso. Her mother and stepfather live in Denver, and are themselves avid skiers. Andrea Mancuso Webber, Julia’s mother, is a successful realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty in Beaver Creek, as well as one of her daughter’s staunchest supporters.

“This really is my second home,” Mancuso says. “I get to spend a month here when I’m training, and it’s so fun to see my family. Colorado holds such great memories from my childhood and I love being able to spend every Thanksgiving here. And Aspen is a particular favorite. There’s nothing like a great powder day there, and the shopping is pretty great as well!”

We caught up with Mancuso in Copper Mountain, where she was training for her first event in Aspen. Not surprisingly she was relaxed and content, no sign of the “take life too seriously” attitude that could easily dominate the character of someone less confident. Her focus on the sport is evident; her desire to live life to its fullest equally so. “Skiing does not define me,” she says with a shrug. “It’s what I do and what I love. But it’s not who I am, because there’s so much more.”

hailed as one of the sport’s top all-around skiers, Mancuso these days still devotes countless hours to making sure she is at the top of her game in every event. “Each event is so different and each race is unique so it’s a bit more challenging,” she says. “The equipment now is so technical that not everything translates to every different type of competition.” For a skier like Mancuso, who is comfortable “doing it all,” that means she really never does get a break, and during the season, she’s training non-stop.DSC_2388

Still, she acknowledges, there’s nothing she’d rather be doing. “This is the dream tour — St. Moritz, Cortina, Val d’Isere, Lenzerheide — how can I not love being able to travel to all the places I dreamed about as a kid?” she exclaims.

Growing up in Squaw Valley, Mancuso says she was the quiet middle child. She adored her older sister, and wanted to be just like her, which fueled a passion to work hard, train hard, and inspired a keen sense of adventure. She also was influenced by a friend whose father was on the U.S. Ski Team. “The two of us used to go watch his races and it gave me a thrill to learn what it was to compete,” she recalls. “I met a lot of the racers, and even though I didn’t fully understand what it meant, it inspired me to work harder, go faster. When I was 13 I finally beat my older sister, and that was the best feeling in the world!”

DSC_6282Those days are far behind, but the memories remain vivid for the part they played in shaping the racer who looks at life as if there were a new adventure around every turn. “I never knew this would be a career, and even though I hoped this was something I could do, I never realized it would take me this far!”

A racer’s success is measured in speed, but for Mancuso it’s just one facet of the sport that dictates who goes home a winner. “I have a lot of focus when I’m racing. On race day you don’t just go out of the starting gate and ski your fastest. You have to memorize the course. You don’t get to run the course on that actual race day, but you have to understand it well and focus on what is the best way to run it. In training runs you can check out the course, but on the actual day you need to know the safest way down while giving 100 percent.

“I love being part of the tour, but it’s different from other team sports,” she continues. “It’s really an individual sport because you’re racing against the clock and competing against yourself. But it’s different when you’re just starting out. The older you get, the wiser, and you can relax knowing there’s always another race. When things don’t go so well, it’s really about hundredths of a second. And that means there’s always another time to do better. But when you’re on the wrong side of the hundredth of a second, it happens in the blink of an eye.”

In the world of ski racing, the tiniest miscalculation can cost the big finish. Only those athletes with nerves of steel are able to rise above the pressure and perform superbly in all conditions and challenges. Yet her ability to accept loss, to acknowledge that maybe today just was not her day, may well be what separates Mancuso from her peers … high-profile teammates such as Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin. “Lindsey is one of the sport’s most winningest females, and truly in in the legend category,” Mancuso says. “She lives, eats and breathes the sport. But there’s a difference here. I love my sport for what it is and how it enriches my life, but it does not define me.”

“The way I look at it, my career is about enjoying my journey and living the dream. For me a successful day on the mountain is about doing my best. You’re out there with 60 girls who are all working very hard to achieve their dream. There’s always someone having a worse day than you, so it’s not fair to you or to anyone to judge your life based on a day,” she says.

It could be her willingness to concede victory to another day which has created an impression that somehow she just doesn’t care. “People think I don’t work hard, but I just work differently. I’m not letting anyone down when I come in 10th. There are so many girls out there all trying their best, and it’s such an inspiration. Everyone wants to do their best every time, but some are going to do it better than others on any given day.”

As a champion veteran of the racing circuit, Mancuso seems to have a perspective that younger competitors could not possibly possess. In fact, by this point in a racer’s career  many have already stowed their racing gear, moving toward a more sedate lifestyle. But for Mancuso, the thrill continues, and as long as she remains injury-free, she has Olympics on her mind.  She parlays that enthusiasm as a mentor to her younger teammates, who often appear crushed following a bad run.

“I always tell the girls to have fun, which I think is a strength of mine. We need to take advantage of the good days, and when you’re feeling particularly awesome, take that extra run. But if you’re not having a good day and not feeling it, don’t push it. Because at the end of the day, happy girls ski fast!”

As a 15-year World Cup veteran, Mancuso devotes hours to staying in peak physical condition. “For me it’s so much less about strength than it is about conditioning,” she explains. A devotee of working out, this super athlete spends a lot of time doing neurokinetic pilates, an exercise regimen that simulates ski positions. But for this self-proclaimed daredevil, working out is just half the fun.

For the past seven years she has spent summers in Maui, a place she has loved since a child. “I remember being mad when I was little because I wanted to ski at Christmas, but our family did the typical snow bum migration in Hawaii. But then I started skiing a lot and Hawaii was my haven. It’s such a healthy, active lifestyle, and I get to do everything I love.

Everything? Yes, she loves it all: mountain biking, road biking, paddleboarding, surfing, free diving, cliff jumping. “I’m a daredevil at heart and that will never change!”

If you’re lucky enough to visit Mancuso in Maui, be prepared for adventure. “I love to bring guests on the Cliff Jump Test. We hike up a lava tube and take a 45-foot-jump off a cliff. My mother has done it twice! A lot of people mistake adrenaline for confidence, but I for one am an adrenaline junkie! I guess I just love doing things that would be scary to most people.”

So she’s won the Gold, she’s one of the most respected racers in the world and she’s brimming with confidence. What’s next for Super Jules? “I want to win the Super-G title. But when I look at the dreams I had as a kid, it makes me smile to know I’ve accomplished them all. It has been enlightening and I just am committed to staying true to my passion for the sport I so love,” she says.”

And now?

She tilts her head back and smiles.

“And now everything I accomplish is just icing on the cake!”

Art of the Cowboy

in Profiles by

Duke Beardsley Evokes
the American West

Duke PaintingColorado artist Duke Beardsley walks a line between illusion and reality. Illusion in the sense that he believes art should be open to interpretation, leaving it to the individual to finish the story in his or her own way. Reality in the sense that the setting is artfully presented, providing a beautifully painted canvas that enables the viewer to both interpret and feel a part of the painting.

Chatting with Beardsley is art in motion, a flurry of sentiments that describe his passion for a craft that has propelled him to the forefront of western artists. Using the iconic working cowboy and horse as the center stone for much of his work, Beardsley’s art compels you to study the details and insert yourself into that very real, yet somehow elusive scenario. “The icon itself, the working cowboy, is very traditional in western art,” he says. “But I’m very much influenced by pop art, which inserts a more modern, contemporary vibe into my work.”

The pop art influence means that for Beardsley, the magic of the painting derives not from the detail of the work, but rather from the viewer’s interpretation. “My job is to give up just enough to let you complete the mission,” he says. In the abstract, it forces you to interpret what you’re looking at. It begins a narrative that lets you complete the story. For example, if I tip the cowboy’s hat just enough to shade the face, you can insert yourself into the story and it becomes a part of you.”Chile

“When I’m painting, I’m much more motivated by how it feels than by how it looks,” Beardsley explains. “I spent the first 30 years of my life worrying how something looks to others and painted with that thought.” Now, however, his overriding concern is what he terms the “illusion of reality.” Today, he says, it’s all about how it feels and in turn how it makes others feel.

Beardsley’s passion and love of the West is obvious, stemming from his well-sown roots in a land where cowboys and horses once ruled. A fifth-generation Colorado native, Beardsley’s family is the consummate representation of all that is truly the American West. His mother’s uncle was Quigg Newton, a highly respected man who served as Mayor of Denver and president of the University of Colorado. His father’s family lived in Westcliffe, CO, and were cattle ranchers who lived and loved the land.

“Both sides of my family have a rich Colorado history that is part of my heritage,” Beardsley says. His grandparents and parents taught him a love of horses that has never waned, and his family still owns a horse ranch in Summit County.  “I spend a lot of time on horseback and I’m fascinated by the physical relationship between horse and rider. Horses get such limited appreciation for their intelligence, and if you look closely at this relationship, it’s amazing.”

A true work of art comes from the heart, the experience, the very soul of the artist. And, as Beardsley says, it’s just something you feel and it’s that feeling that makes it special. “When someone looks at one of my paintings and tells me, ‘Oh, that is exactly how that feels,’ there is nothing I’d rather hear. It’s not the technique, it’s the feeling evoked that I am always striving for.”

Technique, Beardsley says, can be taught. And while masterful technique may initially catch your eye, what catches your heart goes well beyond that realm. “Anyone can learn to paint or draw technically, but the impulse, the passion is not technical, not teDown From High Countryachable. Art is the expression, and the impulse to create it is the magic. And the impulse cannot be taught.”

Beardsley’s pieces have been featured in numerous exhibits locally and internationally, including The Great American Landscape, a groundbreaking traveling exhibition of contemporary American western art displayed in museums throughout China. His work has garnered vast awards and praise, and in 2012 he was selected to paint the 2013 Calgary Stampede commemorative poster. His paintings have been featured in numerous exhibitions, including The Coors Western Art Show, the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale, the Masters of the American West Exhibition and The Colorado Governor’s Invitational Art Show. His pieces are found in private and public collections worldwide, including the Denver Art Museum, The Booth Museum of Western Art, the Whitney Collection of Western American Art and the Forbes Collection.

Beardsley’s work is widely acclaimed for its unique ability to tell a story. Or rather, to let the audience complete the story in their own way. “I strive to be original in my work. I want to portray that sense of independence and self-sufficiency. I understand that originality is not everything in the arts, but it’s pretty cool!”

— ellen gray

Elway Knows Best

in Profiles by

John Elway brings his winning ways from the field to the front office and helps guide the Broncos to another Super Bowl bid.

The year is 1998. He’s 37 years old, likely feeling the effects of being pummeled, beaten down and literally stomped on for nearly two decades. Yet when facing his greatest, most elusive challenge, the concept of giving up is not even a remote option. And that’s when this 37-year-old veteran of the game led his team to its first-ever Super Bowl championship.

In a city where sports rule, John Elway is king. The former Denver Broncos quarterback took his team to five Super Bowls – winning two – and later returned to help lead the Broncos from the sidelines as an executive with the organization. Among sports world superstars, Elway still reigns supreme as an individual who played with a lot of heart and passion, then carried those traits to his endeavors off the field.

A graduate of Stanford University, Elway was a first pick in the 1983 NFL draft; he was then traded to the Broncos where he remained for his 16-year pro football career. Along the way he turned a so-so team into a championship one, eventually racking up back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999. He earned nine Pro Bowl selections and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

And through it all, John Elway has never lost his passion for the team, nor his focus on the win. Today Elway serves as GM and executive vice president of football operations for the Denver Broncos, and it’s clear he is exactly where he should be at this time in his career. Whether throwing a pass on the field or watching the play from the side, Elway has earned a unique brand of respect that is both an inspiration and a constant reminder of the great player fans loved to watch during his remarkable career.

As the Denver Broncos kick off their 2014-15 season, Denver Hotel Magazine spoke with Elway to learn a bit more about the man – on and off the field.

DHM: When you first moved here from California, did you think Denver would become your permanent home?

Elway: I had never been to Denver before so I didn’t know a lot about it. I went to high school and college in California, so I really liked California. Not knowing how long I was going to be in Colorado I thought, especially early in my career, I would end up in California. But I played here for 16 years and had four kids, and by the time I retired from football they were all in school and embedded here in Colorado. So we stayed here and by that point in time I never thought about going back to California. So I have definitely turned into a Coloradoan and this will always be my home.

DHM: What is your favorite thing to do

in Colorado?

Elway: I’m a golfer so obviously I play a lot of golf. I’ve always enjoyed getting up to Vail and spending time in the mountains, doing some hiking. It’s a way for me to feel like I can really get away, and plus you’re in the mountains! One of the best secrets about Colorado is how nice the mountains are during the summertime. It’s neat to get up there. Obviously people think about skiing and don’t realize how nice the mountains are during the summertime. I’m not a skier so I enjoy them much more during the summer.

DHM: Speaking of golf, do you believe great golfers have natural talent or is that something anyone can pick up without having athletic ability?

Elway: I think you have to have athletic ability. There is a lot to it, hand-eye coordination and a lot of physical ability that has to go into golf, as well as the ability to compete. The mental side of a golf game is so great – there is a lot of mental toughness involved, and I think golf, like any other sport, takes a tremendous amount of physical talent as well as mental talent to be great, to be playing on the PGA tour.

DHM: Who is your sports hero?

Elway: The guy who was my hero growing up was Roger Staubach who played for the Cowboys. He was a guy I respected and I liked his style of play, which ended up being a lot like the way I played. I also liked the way he was off the field. He’d been in the Navy and he was a success in the business world. He was a guy who provided a lot of inspiration for me both on and off the field.

John Elway walks off the field in what could have been his last game in his illustrious career against the Atlanta Falcons at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL on January 31, 1999.
John Elway walks off the field in what could have been his last game in his illustrious career against the Atlanta Falcons at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL on January 31, 1999.

DHM: Now let’s talk about ELWAY’S, your restaurant. What is your favorite dish?

Elway: Before we started the restaurant I’d always loved a bone-in ribeye and wanted to have it on the menu. When we decided to do the restaurant the bone-in ribeye was the marquis item we wanted. Tyler, our chef, does a tremendous job and it’s a great piece of meat.

DHM: Okay, now let’s talk some football. Which NFL player today reminds you most of yourself?

Elway: I would say Ben Rothlisberger with the Steelers. He’s a guy who moves around quite a bit, makes a lot of plays with his legs and also does a good job and fields real well from the pocket.

DHM: Do you think the present-day Broncos team is Super Bowl quality?

Elway: I do think we have a chance. We made it there last year and got beat by The Seahawks, but I really believe going into (training) camp this year, if you look at us on paper, we’re more talented than last year. So I definitely think we have the ability to be world champions. There is a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of things we have to do. Things have to fall your way a little bit – you have to get a little bit lucky and you have to stay healthy, but if we can come together and gel we have the ability to make it.

DHM: Do you think the present-day Broncos would have thrived in your era of football?

Elway: I think so. I think with the talent we have on our team we would have been very competitive. I think the rules of the game have changed quite a bit. The offensives are a lot more open now than when I played. The rules have changed the game so that quarterbacks don’t get hit nearly as much as they used to, which is a good thing because it keeps them healthier and the great ones are able to play longer in the game because it’s not such a physical load on them. And the passing game is a lot more prevalent now. Even though we threw the ball quite a bit when I played, it’s just more reliant on quarterback play as well as a passing game. So I think we could have competed and I think defensively we’re physical enough that we could have competed with the teams back when I played.

DHM: Has your perspective of professional football changed after seeing it from an executive position?

Elway: No it hasn’t. I enjoy the position I’m in. Unfortunately as a football player your career is going to end and you retire at a very young age compared to when most people retire. If you’re lucky you retire in your 30s, so my perspective is that I enjoy being a part of the game again, even though I can’t play and I can’t play quarterback. But I enjoy having the control and trying to put the puzzle together. As a quarterback you have all the control inside the lines and now in the position I’m in I have control of everything outside the lines and really no control inside the lines. So it’s a different perspective but I enjoy it and think I use a lot of what I learned in my playing days about being in the locker room, the type of guys I like playing with, the different personalities. There are so many different personalities on a 53-man roster and how to put those all together has definitely helped me.

John Elway drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks at Mile High Stadium in Denver, CO on December 27, 1998.
John Elway drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks at Mile High Stadium in Denver, CO on December 27, 1998.

My dad was a football coach and ever since I can remember, Saturdays or Sundays in the Fall there was a scoreboard, and I’m glad to be a part of that again and to know how we did each week based on what’s on the scoreboard.

DHM: What would you say has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a Broncos executive in the front office?

Elway: When you’re in the entertainment business I think one of the things that is probably the most difficult is that you’re selling human beings. You’re selling players and their ability to play the game of football, so the entertainment side comes from how the players play and the coaches coach. Any time you have that many people, (I think we have more than 200 people in the organization not counting players), and managing that many personalities and egos is the biggest challenge in terms of trying to get everyone going and on the same page. To me that’s the greatest challenge and we’ve been fortunate here with the Broncos to have such great people, which has made this a lot easier. But to me it’s always been the challenge of trying to get everyone going on the same page and to the point where everybody understands our goal, which is to be able to provide a competitive football team that can compete for world championships year in and year out. That’s hard to do and as I said, managing those egos and managing the personalities sometimes gets to be challenging, but I’ve been very fortunate here in the fact that I’ve worked with a lot of great people.

DHM: Favorite Broncos memory?

Elway: My favorite memory was when we won Super Bowl XXXII. It was out in San Diego, and I kneeled down on the last play of the game. We had finally won a Super Bowl, the first Super Bowl for the Broncos and the first one for Colorado. That was definitely the highlight. We won the Super Bowl again the following year and that was very special, but it didn’t come close to the first one because we’d been there four other times and had lost, and we were heavy underdogs against the Packers. We were 14-point underdogs and they were defending champions. Nobody really gave us much of a chance to win that game, so to be able to pull it out and win it and bring that world championship to Colorado was the best.

Tim Allen … The Homegrown Handyman

in Profiles by

Once a local boy who stared at model planes hanging from his ceiling, Tim Allen opens up to DHM on his Denver childhood, his real-life role as Dad and being a Dick.

By Amy Speer

Model airplanes dangle from the ceiling. A few lay on the ground, melted from the heat of combat. The infamous Johnny 7 — a seven-in-one toy gun — is propped in the corner, at the ready.

The scent of yesterday’s Spam casserole and last night’s aerial combat linger in the air of a Denver home near 3rd and Marion Streets. The house looks upon a stunning view of snow-capped mountains, bathed in morning light.

The powdered caps mean just one thing for Tim Dick — it’s going to be a cold walk to school. But the young boy can’t help but relish the sight from his bedroom window — or inhale one last whiff of melted plastic. There’s nothing like the smell of burnt Styrene in the morning.

Tim Cover shot

Meet Tim Dick — once Denver native, now Hollywood star.

You might know him better as Tim Allen, the star of Home Improvement, the voice of Buzz Lightyear, the face of Santa Claus.

Here in Denver, though, a lucky few know him as Tim Dick, the neighborhood boy who shared the same birthday as the twins down the street. Almost 50 years later, a part of him is still Tim Dick  — and that part comes home every now and then.

TIM DICK: THE BOY

Tim Allen always wanted to see the words I’m a Dick in print. That’s because Allen will tell you with sincere honesty: “I’m a Dick.”

“In fact,” he says, “my brothers are Dicks, my cousins are Dicks, and my sister — before she was married — was a Dick. My dad? One incredible Dick and the Dick responsible for me being a Dick.”

There’s even Uncle Richard — “a double Dick” — but let’s not stray too far off topic.

Back to Timothy Alan Dick, born June 13, 1953, in our Mile High City.

Allen says he believes his name helped create his life — or at least the sense of humor needed to cope with being the punch line of childhood jokes. Those low blows, pun intended, taught him an important lesson. “We have the power over words. Not the other way around,” Allen writes in his autobiography, I’m Not Really Here.

So Allen began making his own punch lines. Still, it would be a long time before he would belt out a series of animal-like grunts that would help America define manliness.

Back then, Mrs. Boyle — Mom of the Neighborhood Twins — was still reading him stories. It was those fanciful stories, told at the Boyle cabin, that helped deepen Allen’s love for words.

Allen1

“She used to read us stories that really sparked the imagination,” Allen says in a Denver Hotel Magazine interview. “Her stories were wonderful and scary and unforgettable.”

Then, suddenly, Allen’s own childhood story shifted tragically. On Nov. 23, 1964, Allen’s father, Gene Dick, was killed in an auto collision with a drunk driver. Allen was just 11.

The Denver chapter of Tim’s life came to an end when his mother remarried, wedding her high-school sweetheart, Bill. She packed up her six children to join his three in Birmingham, Mich., a Detroit suburb. The only thing missing from the Brady Bunch equation was a maid named Alice and a very huge chunk of Allen’s heart.

“I wonder where I’d be in life if he’d stayed around,” Allen wrote in I’m Not Really Here.

Maybe he’d still be Tim Dick.

TIM ALLEN: THE MAN

Allen’s life on stage started out as a dare.

After graduating from Western Michigan University, Allen could wield colored pencils and paintbrushes just as impressively as he could a punch line. Following graduation, Allen took a job as a creative director for a Detroit advertising firm. There, a friend challenged him to make his first stand-up appearance at Detroit’s Comedy Castle in 1979. He still hangs on to a tile he chipped out of the comedy room floor.

Shortly after, Allen received a spot on a local talk show. “The producers came up to me and carefully said, ‘Um, we don’t feel comfortable flashing your name on screen. Surely, you understand. You know, Tim — Dick? People will think you made it up to be funny,’ ” Allen recalls on his website, timallen.com.

He wanted to be a comedian so much, he removed Dick right then and there. In that instant, Tim Allen was born.

Comedic acts turned into commercials; commercials turned into sitcoms; sitcoms turned into movies. Allen even penned two books. (What can we say — he’s a man of many talents.)

His sitcom career took off in 1991 when he starred in his own hit TV series, Home Improvement. Allen played Tim Taylor, a mishap-prone host of a home repair show. During its first season, the sitcom broke into the Nielsen Top 10, moving up to No. 1 in 1993.

Allen then appeared on the big screen, starring in top-grossing Disney movie The Santa Clause. Following that, he lent his voice to Toy Story, Disney/Pixar’s computer-animated hit.

Somehow during all that, Allen managed to find time to write his first book, Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man, a revealing look into male behavior. The book topped The New York Times’ best-seller list in 1994, propelling him to an unprecedented trifecta with the No. 1 rated TV show, the No. 1 box-office movie and the No. 1 best-selling book — all in the same week.

We asked Allen, after tapping into so many mediums, does he have a favorite? “Truthfully, each different job has its own attraction,” Allen says. “I really enjoy voiceover work, like Buzz Lightyear. It demands a lot of imagination.”

Thanks, Mrs. Boyle.

“I love doing sitcoms because you get to build a character over time. There’s an evolution to it. Besides, nothing beats the intimacy of receiving laughter and feedback from a studio audience.”

Plus, it’s a 9-to-5 job. Hello, family every night.

“And I really like the pace and focus of movie acting. There’s an intensity packed into just a few months. It’s kind of like going to summer camp. It’s a new location away from home. You form bonds with friends, and it’s kind of sad when it’s over.

“But my true love — my first love, will always be stand-up comedy. It’s just you, a microphone and an audience. It’s such a pure form, I don’t even consider it a medium. It’s a large. Maybe even an extra large.”

MIKE BAXTER: OUTDOORSMAN

Now, Allen is back in evolution mode with his latest ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing. In the sitcom, which wrapped up its second season in March, Allen stars as Mike Baxter, the marketing director of a Denver sporting-goods store. The sitcom marks his most recent creative return to the Mile High City.

Allen revisited Denver’s Cranmer Park, modeling some of the Last Man Standing sets after the very park where he played Little League football as a Wolfpack Ranger.

While Allen’s character, Mike, is the king at work, he’s the odd man out at home in a houseful of women. Instead of obsessing over power tools, like Tim Taylor on Home Improvement, Allen obsesses over things like hunting gear and four-wheelers. (Insert manly grunt here.)

“There is definitely a lot of Mike Baxter in me,” Allen tells the magazine. “I like outdoor machines — 4x4s, snowmobiles, motorcycles and wood boats. Come on — what guy doesn’t love outdoor equipment?”

The Mike Baxter in Allen loves taking hikes, while the Tim Dick in Allen loves mountain views from his Grand Lake cabin — another Colorado connection.

But don’t let all this smog-free air fool you — there’s still a part of Allen, a big part, that relates best to Tim Taylor and his love for exhaust. Allen finds solace in the garage, dubbing it “a creative center” in his second book, I’m Not Really Here.

“Some of today’s greatest companies began in the garage,” Allen writes. “The Ford Motor Company, Delta Airplanes, Apple Computers and more than a few great rock-and-roll bands. There’s something spiritual about this place. Maybe it’s the size of the door or all the machines inside. Maybe it’s the work area or the tools or the smell of grease.”

One of the first cars Allen worked on was a VW-based dune buggy. Since then, Tim has done everything from building hotrods from the frame up to designing fancy Cadillacs with enough horsepower to make even young Tim Dick belt out a manly grunt.

If it’s on wheels, it’s worth souping up, and wheelchairs are no exception. In 2002, Allen helped create the Dragonfly wheelchair for his niece, Megan, who is unable to walk unassisted because she has cerebral palsy.

“When she was young, I promised I would help design and build a new wheelchair for her,” Allen says on his website. “And kids remember promises.”

So Allen kept his promise, delivering the Dragonfly, a metallic orange wheelchair complete with anodized aluminum foot pads, black perforated leather upholstery and four-wheel engineering designed to negotiate sand, snow and mud.

Think four-wheel drive on a rocky summit in the backcountry of Colorado.

TIM ALLEN: THE DAD

There’s something else the real-life Allen shares with Mike Baxter — and Tim Taylor, for that matter.

Allen goes by the name Dad.

In real life, he has two daughters, a 23-year-old, Kady, from his first marriage, and a 3-year-old, Elizabeth, with wife Jane Hajduk. On the TV set, he’s managed to father six kids altogether — fictional ones, of course.

“Being an on-screen father is a much safer proposition,” Allen tells Denver Hotel Magazine. “I get to offer sage words of advice to my on-screen kids, carefully driven by a great writing staff. At home, the writers seem to be on a coffee break — can’t find them anywhere — so I have to wing it on my own. It’s often a hit-or-miss process but always driven by love.”

So much love, in fact, he once ate a dog treat — a red one — in hopes of soliciting a giggle out of his oldest daughter.

“I told her I could eat a dog bone. She didn’t believe me,” Allen recalls in I’m Not Really Here. “So I bit off a hunk, chewed and swallowed. Her eyes lit up, she grinned, then flipped out and started crying. So I did the only thing I could do — I licked the tears from Kady’s face, nuzzled up against her and everything was fine.”

Had Kady been a boy, Allen might have predicted her reaction a little better — most boys would have asked to sample the treat, too. Since then, though, the father of two has realized something important about the female kind.

“Men are outwardly gaseous and happy to be so,” Allen tells the magazine. “Women, not so much.”

Meanwhile, after playing Tim Dick, Tim Taylor, Mike Baxter and plain-old Dad, Allen has discovered the secret ingredient to true manliness.

“I seem to be surrounded by women at home, in my job, in my world,” Allen says. “In many ways, work and activities define men as men, but it’s the interaction with women that define us as something quite deeper.”

Maybe that explains some of his newest passions in life — growing tomatoes, tea parties (with his daughter) and dress shopping (for his wife).

Hey, salt and peppering your own homegrown tomatoes is manly. You just have to do it with a grunt.

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