Words and photos by Vanessa Beucher
Who would have imagined that the first person from the Middle East to participate in a Freeride World Qualifier would be Mona Seraji, a pint-sized snowboarder from Iran? Mona’s story is fascinating; she’s come an incredibly long way to get where she is now.
Let’s go back in time to the first part of her life growing up as an Iranian girl. Mona tells me she feels very grateful to have been born and raised in an educated and open-minded family. Her mother is a very active person, who spends time in the mountains every week.
She describes her childhood with a mix of excitement and nostalgia: “I started skiing as a very young kid but one day when I was 20, my skis fell off the racks of my sister’s car and got smashed. This small mishap turned out to be a significant event in my life.”
“One day… my skis fell off the racks of my sister’s car and got smashed. This small mishap turned out to be a significant event in my life…”
“It was almost the end of the season and a short while after, I was out with my mother to buy some heels for a wedding party but my attention got caught by a ‘Sale’ sign in an outdoor shop. I walked out with a snowboard instead!”
It was the start of a dazzling passion, which would never leave her. Snowboarding in Iran was really in its infancy at that time and Mona became one of the pioneering female snowboarders in the country, if not the actual pioneer. Snowboarding with men had a massive impact on her riding, as she had to push it really hard to keep up.
Over the years, she was more encouraged than tested by her male counterparts and treated with a great sense of respect, despite what stereotypes of the country might suggest. She says: “Being a woman, and an Iranian woman on top of that, has never really been that much of a big deal for me.”