The ski and snowboard industry has known for a long time that they need to attract more people of color to the slopes if they want to continue to thrive. So, there has been a lot of pressure to find emerging superstars of color who might be able to do for snowsports what Tiger Woods did for golf.

No one has yet emerged to take that heavy duty role, but Denver has made its own contribution to the cause of snowsports diversity in the person of Marc Frank Montoya, a North High graduate who finished eighth yesterday in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding event at the Winter X Games in Aspen:

[O]n the slopes of Buttermilk Mountain, where the X Games are underway through Tuesday, he is the only Mexican-American in the professional ranks. And snowboarding, he says, saved his life.

“I’d most definitely be in a gang and probably could have gone to jail like some of my homies if I wasn’t doing this,” said Montoya, 29. “Snowboarding got me out. It’s so hard to get out of Denver, man. But once you do, you see the light. You see that there is a whole big world out there and want to go witness it and experience it.”

Denver is the home of Alpino, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the world of snowsports. With Montoya leading the way, it seems pretty likely that when a world champion-level superstar snowrider of color emerges, he or she will hail from the Mile-High City.