Photos: War-weary Afghan youth turn to snowboarding for thrills

While Afghanistan’s capital may seem an unlikely destination for snowboarders, a group of young Afghans is looking to put the city on the winter sports map and change perceptions about their war-weary nation. Kabul is better known for its hulking concrete blast walls and tense security checkpoints. But it also sits in a valley in the Hindu Kush mountains at an elevation of around 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). The rugged terrain has inspired young Afghans to take to the surrounding mountains in search of fun.

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST 7 Photos
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Mohammad Farzad, 20, a member of the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation practices on the hillside known as Kohe Koregh, on the outskirts of Kabul. While Afghanistan’s capital may seem an unlikely destination for snowboarders, a group of young Afghans is looking to put the city on the winter sports map and change perceptions about their war-weary nation. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

Mohammad Farzad, 20, a member of the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation practices on the hillside known as Kohe Koregh, on the outskirts of Kabul. While Afghanistan’s capital may seem an unlikely destination for snowboarders, a group of young Afghans is looking to put the city on the winter sports map and change perceptions about their war-weary nation. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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Members of the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation pose for a photograph during a practice session. Kabul is better known for its hulking concrete blast walls and tense security checkpoints. But it also sits in a valley in the Hindu Kush mountains at an elevation of around 1,800 metres (5,900 feet). The rugged terrain has inspired young Afghans to take to the surrounding mountains in search of fun. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

Members of the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation pose for a photograph during a practice session. Kabul is better known for its hulking concrete blast walls and tense security checkpoints. But it also sits in a valley in the Hindu Kush mountains at an elevation of around 1,800 metres (5,900 feet). The rugged terrain has inspired young Afghans to take to the surrounding mountains in search of fun. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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A member of the minority Hazara ethnic group, tries snowboarding with a trainer on the snow-covered hillside known as Kohe Koregh. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

A member of the minority Hazara ethnic group, tries snowboarding with a trainer on the snow-covered hillside known as Kohe Koregh. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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Ahmad Romal Hayat, 22, who founded the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation, said that even a country plagued by war and sectarian conflict can have room for sports. “We started snowboarding to show this new face to the world,” said Hayat. As a teenager, he started out on a skateboard. Later, he bought a snowboard in neighbouring Iran and taught himself how to ride it. (Tamana Sarwary / AP)

Ahmad Romal Hayat, 22, who founded the Afghanistan Snowboarding Federation, said that even a country plagued by war and sectarian conflict can have room for sports. “We started snowboarding to show this new face to the world,” said Hayat. As a teenager, he started out on a skateboard. Later, he bought a snowboard in neighbouring Iran and taught himself how to ride it. (Tamana Sarwary / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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These days, Hayat and handful of federation members hit the slopes outside Kabul each weekend, usually with around a dozen male and female students and plenty of spectators. They come for the free training on a snowy hillside west of the capital, often shrouded in pale grey mist. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

These days, Hayat and handful of federation members hit the slopes outside Kabul each weekend, usually with around a dozen male and female students and plenty of spectators. They come for the free training on a snowy hillside west of the capital, often shrouded in pale grey mist. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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The mountain, known as Kohe Koregh, was used by the Afghan Mujahideen, or holy warriors, to rain artillery and rockets down on Kabul during the Afghan civil war in the 1990s. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

The mountain, known as Kohe Koregh, was used by the Afghan Mujahideen, or holy warriors, to rain artillery and rockets down on Kabul during the Afghan civil war in the 1990s. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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Now, it’s a place for laughing kids who sled on plastic bags, while Hayat’s team members work on improving their snowboarding skills on about 60cm (2 feet) of snow. They still have to share snowboards, and the hill has no lift facility. That means they’ve got to hike back up to the top after each run -- a tiring process. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

Now, it’s a place for laughing kids who sled on plastic bags, while Hayat’s team members work on improving their snowboarding skills on about 60cm (2 feet) of snow. They still have to share snowboards, and the hill has no lift facility. That means they’ve got to hike back up to the top after each run -- a tiring process. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2020 03:14 PM IST
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