Nothing snows him down: Marc Montoya: pro snowboarder.
A. There are so few Latinos involved in the sport because they are in the cities, and no one is up in the mountains. Also, the ones that are close to the slopes don't have the money to go snowboarding. It's an outrageous sport--mad expensive--and few people have access to the equipment and lift tickets. It's almost a rich man's sport, pretty much like skiing.
Q. How did you get involved in snowboarding?
A. I love skateboarding and saw snowboarding in a magazine; it looked like the same thing, but bigger and faster. It looked fun, so I had to try it. I still skateboard, probably as much as I snowboard.
Q. How has the sport evolved since you started?
A. I got started in 1991, and now people see it more as a sport than a trend. It's still a cool sport for young people, but there are a lot of older people who are becoming involved, people who are open minded and realize that it is better than skiing, which is bad for your knees, and that's about it.
Q. When did you find out that you could earn a living from snowboarding?
A. I guess when I got my first check from one of my sponsors. I was very happy about that, and a couple of my good friends kept telling me that I could make money by going pro.
Q. How hard is it to get sponsorship?
A. When you first get started, it's about meeting the right people and being cool. It wasn't that hard for me. A certain amount is about who you know. But if you are good and have your own style, and people like your style--well, it isn't hard. Things just work out for you.
Q. What happens when you don't like your sponsors' clothes and equipment?
A. I tell them it sucks and that they need to make something else. Luckily I have been able to pick my sponsors wisely. I like the stuff produced by the companies I ride for. I tell them straight up, it works out for me.
Q. Where are the best rides?
A. The best rides are in Brighton and Sandy, both in Utah. Utah is really good for snowboarding because there's a lot of stuff to hit there. There's a lot of big mountain riding, cliffs, and jumps everywhere. A lot of powder.
Q. Tell us about the Winter X Games?
A. The Winter X Games involve all the best pros from all over the world. I will have to qualify for the X Games in a few weeks. I am pretty sure I will qualify. If I don't, it will be because of injuries. I get broken ribs, concussions, broken fingers, separated shoulders, but I don't mind--it's worth it.
Q. How many hours do you practice a day?
A. I don't really train, I just go out and ride. I started snowboarding for the love of it, and if I turn it into a training thing, I just know I won't like it as much. I stay on top of my game and go out almost everyday and ride. I don't see it as a job.
Q. What goes through your mind when you are snowboarding?
A. If I'm in Alaska doing a crazy, life-threatening thing, I just focus on getting down alive--taking the right route down--because you could easily die. When the slopes are really steep--like in Alaska or Canada--that's a different kind of snowboarding, because there are avalanche dangers and blind cliffs. You have to try to remember which line you are taking, because it is hard to see. You can only see about 20 feet in front of you, so you have to have a good memory of the line you are supposed to be taking.
Q. Have you had any near-death experiences?
A. I have been in avalanches and lucked out and cut out of them before they got too big. And one time, I came off a cliff that was too big and got lucky and landed in some deep powder.
Q. Has being a father changed the way you snowboard?
A. I am always cautious, especially in Alaska where you can easily die. I never take really crazy chances.
Good luck at the Winter X Games.