June 18, 2013 Updated: June 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm
Cyclists finally get their version of the Hill Climb, arm wrestlers can compare biceps with others from around the state and, for the first time, even dogs can join in the competition.
The Rocky Mountain State Games are a month away, and organizers want everyone to know there are numerous sports added to the schedule and plenty of time to register.
"We've included some really interesting events, I think," said Mike Moran, senior media consultant with the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.
The first registration form filled out this year was for the new pickleball competition, a racquet sport that combines elements of tennis and badminton. Others among the eight events added include skateboarding, disc golf and Ultimate (Frisbee).
Moran said event organizers brainstorm each winter in an effort to find relevant new games. They analyze activities that are popular in the area and consider what is happening at the same events held in 36 other states.
The goal is to find competitions that will attract competitors from across ages and talent levels. That seems to be working, as the group of early entrants include an 82-year-old for pickleball, a 14-year-old for archery, retired Marines and competitors from towns like Breckenridge, Loveland, Parker and many from Colorado Springs.
Last year saw 7,035 competitors from 120 Colorado cities and Moran said registrations have been coming in at a faster pace for this year's event, which will be held over two weekends in July (19-21, 26-28) at venues across the area. More than 400 volunteers help put on the competitions.
Participants must be Colorado residents, though students attending college in the state or military personnel stationed here are also invited. NCAA athletes can compete in sanctioned state games without jeopardizing eligibility.
The marquee new event promises to be the Cycling Hill Climb. Riders will depart at staggered times on Pikes Peak Highway starting at 6 a.m. - before the road is open to traffic - and will ride along the exact 12.4-mile course used by cars and motorcycles in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Moran said several elite-level cyclists have already committed to the event.
If that sounds too serious, don't worry, there are events on the other end of the spectrum. In the dog agility, K-9s of various skill levels will try to navigate a course with unpredictable results.
"We'll probably see a wide range of dogs, from those that are truly athletic and those that are doing it for fun," Moran said. "It's real amusing to watch."