1. Blazers return! With two wins over the Jazz in less than one month, the Blazers have their best season start in 20 years!
2. Jacoby Ellsbury boosts Red Sox to World Series victory. The Madras all-star center fielder and former Bend Elk finished 2013 with 31 doubles and a league-leading 52 stolen bases. Before he was traded to the Yankees earlier this month, he proved to be a pivotal player in Boston's dramatic World Series win.
3. Ducks-Beaver Civil War game: Although the game was painful for Duck fans, who two weeks earlier had seen hopes for a national title game dashed, it was a nail-biter, changing the lead four times in the fourth quarter—a final minute TD gave the Ducks the 36-35 win.
4. Summit High soccer: A 4-2 win over Wilson gave the Summit High girl's team a back-to-back state championship. A dynasty in the making?
5. Portland Timbers: A shake-up in the coaching staff proved to be the right move after Portland's professional team was the second-worst team in the league in 2012; this season it reached the Division Finals!
Top Five Most Impressive Local Feats
1. Chris Wright's first ascents In May, the Bend climber/mountaineer grabbed a proud first ascent in the Alaskan Range on the fabled Mooses Tooth. Then, in November, Wright and his partner braved icy snowstorms and thin air to claim two new routes in Nepal, high in the Himalaya. Burly.
2. Chris Horner wins the Vuelta In September and at the ripe old age of 42, Bend's Chris Horner won the three-week-long, climbing-intensive Tour of Spain (Vuelta a Espana). In doing so, the spindly cyclist became the oldest rider ever to win a Grand Tour. Chapeau, old man.
3. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess skis to first at U.S. Cross Country Championships Last January, the 26-year-old Bend Nordic skier won the National Championship freestyle sprint race in Soldier Hollow, Utah. Only days before, he took third in the classic sprint. We suspect Blackhorse-von Jess will be back on the podium in 2014.
4. Bob Woodward's and Terry Foley's wild rides In October, Woodward, Bend's former mayor, and pal, Foley, completed their 100th mountain bike ride in the rarely ridden Skyline Forest. They opened up new trails, covered more than 800 miles and saw exactly seven other riders. Oh, and both men are in their 70s.
5. Accomplishments by Bend's Ultra Runners Despite various injuries all season, Bend's Stephanie Howe rebounded to finish second at the 100k Ultra Running Championships in Vail. Similarly, this summer Max King fought through body issues to smash a 50k course record in Northern California and recently finished third at the XTERRA Trail Run Worlds Championships in Hawaii.
Top Five Bend Recreation Improvements
1. Bike Lanes: They're everywhere downtown and more are on the way! The grand plan is to create connectivity east-west and north-south. Finally, Bend is taking bike lane infrastructure seriously.
2. First Street Rapids Bridge Before the bridge installation this summer, runners, walkers and commuters had to leave the scenic Deschutes River Trail and take to the streets to cross the river. No more! Now, we're one step closer to complete Deschutes River Trail connectivity.
3. Newport Avenue Dam: Decommissioned Mirror Pond dam removed in favor of a paddling-friendly free-flowing river, improved river habitat and increased Deschutes River Trail connectivity.
4. Mountain Biking at Mt. Bachelor In late summer, Mt. Bachelor joined the legions of other ski hills offering lift-served downhill mountain biking. While its few trails are already impressive, when the park is fully completed (2014, perhaps?) it'll be home to 13 miles of bermed downhill fun with everything from steep jumps to twisty singletrack—perfect for both experts and beginners.
5. Skate Park at Ponderosa Park It was a long time coming, but Bend skaterboarders finally have a modern concrete home they can be proud of. Hopefully, the eastside park is the first of many more skate features to be sprinkled throughout Bend.