Iran has been competing in the Winter Olympics since 1956, but the country has never sent a woman participant to the Games. Until this year. In just a few days, Marjan Kalhor will be the first female Winter Olympian in the history of Iran.
Training in the Alborz mountain range north of Tehran, Kalhor began skiing at age four. But it wasn't until a National Youth Championship that the skier considered truly pursuing the sport, saying the win "[gave] me ideas." By 16, Kalhor won bronze at a competition in Turkey, and two years later she took home gold in slalom and silver in giant at a Lebanese event.
As the first Iranian woman in Winter Olympics history, Kalhor has been selected to carry the country's flag in the Opening Ceremony, much like Homa Hosseini, the female Iranian rower who carried the flag at the Beijing Olympics. While in Vancouver, Kalhor will abide by the strict dress code set forth by the Islamic Republic. In the Olympic village she will wear the traditional headscarf, but on the slopes, she'll dress like all the other skiers. According to Kalhor, "Skiing is a sport which needs you to be fully clothed. So as far as the uniform for the competition goes, there is no problem — I'll observe the Islamic dress code."
Kalhor isn't expected to medal in Vancouver, but is focused on giving her best effort on the world's biggest stage. Sometimes, it doesn't take a medal to be a winner.