Mona Seraji has been ascending new heights as the first Middle Eastern professional snowboarder.
Back for her second year at the Freeride World Qualifiers (FWQ), Mona was vying for a top spot. Check our interview with Mona from last year, and read on for her most recent FWQ experience.
Recently, I was back in the Alps for another round of FWQ. The view of massive mountains and endless possibilities never gets old. Because I’m the only rider from Iran that competed, I ended up representing my country.
Snowboarding is very popular in Iran, even though the freestyle level is pretty scarce compared to Europe and the US. We don't have a proper snow park or a halfpipe, but since 2013, a group of friends from Switzerland and I have developed We Ride in Iran, an organization promoting slopestyle in Iran by running competitions with European judges and shapers.
I’m in the mountains all year, regardless of the season – biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and splitboarding. With mountain elevations of 4,000 meters and above in Tehran, I get the chance to train more than six months of the year on snow. All of this helped me prepare for the upcoming FWQ.
Once there, the FWQ comp environment is filled with excitement, joy, and friendship. Everyone talks about their lines and we all hopped from mountain to mountain for each event. When you all share the same passion, it doesn't really matter where you're from. It’s like being from the same tribe – the Freeride community, a family of freedom.
At this comp, I passed the finish line with the biggest smile on my face, did exactly what I wanted to do, and enjoyed myself to the fullest in the fresh snow. Surprisingly, my name was not announced on the podium. It's hard to be judged sometimes.
After FWQ, some friends and I competed as a team of three in a Freeride comp for fun. The Bruson Freeride was on the same face as the third FWQ stop in Switzerland. With loads of powder and sun, it couldn’t have been any better. We celebrated with a huge party and our team was second on the podium. It was a perfect end to this wild trip.
For the first and second competition, I came in third. People were surprised to see an Iranian woman on the podium, and many riders want to know my story and how I ended up here. I'm happy to tell them about my massive home mountains and fellow Iranian riders.
While hiking up the mountain in Vars, France, for another competition, I had a lot going through my mind: My line, results, podium, sponsors, and more. After the spiral of thoughts, I realized I'm already proud of myself. I wondered if any Iranian had been up here before, witnessing these beautiful views, taking in all the energy of the mountains.
Sitting at the airport of Geneva looking at the planes, I thought about my one-month journey in the Alps that I wouldn't trade for anything else. It sends me on to my next adventure with a better understanding of the mountains, life, and snowboarding. ∆
Photos by Thomas Bekker | Freeride World Tour.