, who has been skiing 44 years, can't remember "the first time I turned on a TV or the first time I played a video game, but I still remember the first day I skied."
...Roberto Moreno, who founded Denver-based Alpino five years ago to increase minority participation in snowsports, brought more than 100 children to the slopes to learn how to ski.
From lowriders to snowriders, Roberto Moreno
likes to carve up stereotypes the way he
slices snow with his
skis: aggressively, enthusiastically and, sometimes it seems, endlessly. Moreno, a founding member of Keystone's informal Wednesday Night Club, was in his element when the Summit County resort opened Nov. 12 with 36 consecutive hours of snowriding.He
was on the snow for about 12 of those hours.
"We have to, because they are the future, and if we don't figure out ways to reach out to a multicultural future, we're not going to have snow sports in 25 years - or it will become something like polo," Moreno
, 55, has been skiing for 44 years.He grew up in what he describes as "gangland East L.A.," where a director of a local park organized ski trips to nearby Big Bear.Moreno
was 10 at the time.
"(Ski filmmaker) Warren Miller says you always remember the first day that you skied or snowboarded," Moreno
have partnered with Vail Resorts - owner of Keystone, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Vail - on the 10,000 Project, aimed at generating that many snow sports experiences for minority children during the next two seasons.
That's a great first step, Moreno
said, but he
has been pushing hard for the past two seasons to get more ski areas on board and to partner with youth groups, churches or any other organization with high minority participation. His
goal is to dramatically increase Colorado's 6.7 percent rate of minority participation in snow sports - it lags well behind the national average of 10 percent - not just for the financial health of the industry but for the enormous impact the mountain lifestyle can have on urban youths. Take a bus ride with one of Alpino's groups, Moreno said, and "you'll see the power and the magic of the mountains, and it always occurs right when you crest the hill at Genesee and you see the reaction on the faces of these kids.
"This kid is suddenly realizing that . . . there's a world out there that's better than the world they were born into."
That realization for Moreno
came at Big Bear but has carried through to the rest of his
life.He chose to attend the University of California at Berkeley in part because of its academic reputation, but also because it owned a ski lodge near Lake Tahoe. Berkeley
in the 1960s was a swirling sea of countercultural chaos, and Moreno
said skiing was seen as somewhat bourgeoisie, but "we skied on weekends and protested during the week."
has passed his
passion for skiing on to his
youngest daughter, 21, but said his
oldest daughter, 34, is less enthused and lives in Southern California, where she
gave birth to twin daughters in May.Being a grandfather hasn't slowed Moreno
believes because there's no cultural history of snow sports in most multicultural populations in the United States, the biggest hurdle is fear.
As a patroller, Moreno knows that in-bounds avalanches and skier deaths are an extreme rarity, but he
thinks, based on his
work with minority communities, over-the-top marketing by the ski industry leads minorities to think it's an incredibly dangerous sport.
Lack of money, Moreno
said, is not keeping minorities off the slopes.
"There's a fallacious stereotype out there that people of color don't have the money to participate in snow sports, and it's absolutely ridiculous," Moreno
said, citing statistics that the 30 percent of the U.S. population made up of ethnic minority groups has $1.6 trillion in disposable income each year. Vail Resorts chief operating officer Bill Jensen, who accepted Moreno's 10,000 Project challenge of hiring 10 minority workers in frontline positions at each of his resorts, agrees that tapping into multicultural markets makes sound fiscal sense.