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Colin Duffy, Team USA’s youngest climber. Photo courtesy of Luke Webster
9 Reasons to Love Denver in 2021

Reasons to Love Denver 2021: Athletics a Mile Above the Rest

Even through a pandemic year wrought with adversity and defeat, these local athletes inspired us to reach great heights.

1. Because these local athletes have given us something to cheer for after seeking their own silver—or gold or bronze—linings in the yearlong delay of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Ben Pinkelman, 27
Hometown: Centennial
Sport: Rugby
Favorite Local Park: Cherry Park, Centennial
Pinkelman was prepared to push through a back injury and limp his way into the games in 2020. Instead, as soon as the delay was announced, he flew home for surgery. During recovery he attempted to learn Japanese and juggling but hardly touched a rugby ball. He considered it a rare chance to miss his sport and believes the mental break prepared him to take on his second Olympics—and the world.

Summer Rappaport, 29
Hometown: Thornton
Sport: Triathlon
Favorite Spot To Dine With Friends: Hapa Sushi, Boulder
Rappaport was the first triathlete in the country to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team headed to Tokyo. This year, her already arduous workout regimen was intensified by the challenge of having to live apart from her husband for more than six months while training in Portugal. Due to travel restrictions and the ban on foreign spectators, a reunion isn’t expected until after her race on July 27.

Yul Moldauer, 24
Hometown: Arvada
Sport: Gymnastics
Favorite Local Meal: Breakfast burrito from Bonfire Burritos, Golden
When COVID-19 hit, Moldauer’s neighbors got their first look at this Olympic hopeful as he practiced on a pommel horse in his garage and a tumble mat on his lawn. Moldauer had been training at the University of Oklahoma, his alma mater, but ultimately decided to make the move home to Colorado, where he reunited with coaches that feel like family at 5280 Gymnastics.

Maddie Godby, 28
Hometown: Louisville
Sport: Track cycling
Favorite Colorado Bike Ride: Flagstaff Road, Boulder
After the track at the Olympic Training Center shut down in 2020, Godby logged lots of “unglamorous solo workouts” on the stationary trainer. Initially, motivation came and went in waves, but eventually she found strength in the realization that uninterrupted training and an empty race schedule had the potential to lead to tremendous improvements before her first Olympic Games.

Colin Duffy, 17
Hometown: Broomfield
Sport: Climbing
Favorite Hometown Hangout: Sweet Cow, Louisville
In the past year, Colin Duffy, Team USA’s youngest climber, got his driver’s license and grew by a couple of inches. Duffy’s biggest gains this year, however, came in speed climbing—one-on-one races up 15-meter climbing walls—one of the three disciplines in which he will compete in Tokyo. —Danielle Atkin

2. Because our swing has never been better.

Photo by Jeff Nelson

Golf has never been a big part of Colorado culture, mostly because it’s seen as stiff and stuffy—in short, too much plaid and not enough flannel. Then COVID-19 shuttered our usual pursuits. Denver-owned golf courses, however, enjoyed only a brief hiatus, reopening for play on April 22, less than a month after stay-at-home orders were imposed. Suddenly, golf became one of our only options. Just as surprisingly, it soon became one of our preferred pastimes. Last year, Denver golf courses recorded more than 391,000 rounds, an increase of 24 percent over the previous year. Those numbers should continue to bloom in 2021 as City Park Golf Course, which reopened in September 2020 after a three-year renovation, has been consistently booked two weeks out.

Of course, no one will confuse Denver’s seven city courses with Augusta National, and bless the golf gods for that. They are cheap (you can play for as little as $20), easy (relaxing the barrier of entry into a frustrating game), and unpretentious (no golf shoes? no collared shirt? no problem!). It’s not the Masters, but these features are attracting Coloradans who just want to enjoy themselves. Imagine that. —Spencer Campbell

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