• Hayden Seder

Wild Woman: Qualified Olympic Climber Kyra Condie

Photo by Alexander Zoltai

One of just four American climbers to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, 23-year-old Kyra Condie (@kyra_condie) has been climbing since she was 11 years old, climbing and competing despite having severe scoliosis. She had a spinal fusion surgery in 2010 to correct the curvature of her spine and her career took off with her becoming a regular at pro competitions and becoming a Bouldering World Cup finalist. The University of Minnesota grad is now based out of Salt Lake City where she logs days of notoriously tough training—seriously, watch her Instagram vids—in preparation for the Olympics.

Tell me about when and why you first got into climbing? What was it about the sport that was so appealing to you?

Kyra: I think what drew me into climbing was the fact that it was so independent. As a kid I already wanted to do everything myself without any help, from tying my shoes to cooking meals—I wanted to be the one doing it. I think climbing really allowed me to feel in control—the play wasn’t up to a coach, the movement on the wall wasn’t choreographed by someone else—I was able to do exactly what I wanted to exactly how I wanted to. I think that’s what I still love about it.

How I actually got introduced to climbing was at a birthday party at the local gym, so classic!

Photo by Alexander Zoltai

Where did you grow up and what was your relationship like to the outdoors?

Kyra: I was born and raised in Minnesota and was always a super outdoorsy kid. My family would take yearly trips to the boundary waters and go canoe camping for a week or two at a time. That’s definitely where I fell in love with nature and exploring the outdoors. Minnesota also instilled a contempt for winter though; I’m definitely a spring-fall type of person!

Would you say you’re more of a boulderer than a sport climber?

Kyra: I definitely prefer bouldering; I like the room for mistakes that bouldering gives you. I do enjoy the challenge of climbing a route perfectly in order to send, but I’m a pretty chaotic person so I make a lot of mistakes!

What are your thoughts on the format of climbing for the Olympics (requiring participation in 3 types of climbing when a climber may only specialize in one)?

Kyra: I, like pretty much everyone, would prefer there to be three separate disciplines in the Olympics, but I think this is a great starting point for introducing all three disciplines of our sport to the Olympic world. I do think that this format actually played to my strengths though; I’ve always competed in all three disciplines while a lot of people specialized when they were young.

Photo by Alexander Zoltai

How has your training routine changed—if it has—to prepare for the Olympics? Is the speed climbing portion as tough for you as it seems to be for other Olympic qualifiers?

Kyra: My training has actually changed a lot. I didn’t work with a coach for most of my climbing career up until now. Working with our coaches regularly has made huge improvements in my climbing. Speed climbing wasn’t very hard for me to adjust to because I competed in speed climbing as a youth competitor which gave me a really good base in speed climbing and training!

What is your training routine usually like? What’s a typical day like for you right now?

Kyra: Right now I’ve been doing a lot of two-a-days training where I train in the morning and evening, usually focusing on different things each session. Sometimes I weight lift in the morning, sometimes I do cardio, sometimes I hangboard, and sometimes I just climb.

Photo by Alexander Zoltai

How did you keep in shape during quarantine?

Kyra: I’ve been lucky to have access to our team training facility for most of quarantine, which has been super nice. But I did try to stay home and do as much at home as possible. So I came up with a lot of at-home workouts, built a climbing wall in my apartment, and tried to stretch.

How do you think being a woman in this sport is different than for men (if it is)? What has been your experience as a woman in a male-dominated sport?

Kyra: I think I was super lucky that as a kid in the climbing gym, I was super oblivious to how male-dominated climbing was. I think it could have been super easy to have been discouraged when I was younger by not being “one of the boys.” I wouldn’t get invited to route-set at the gym or go outdoor climbing on the weekends. I think I didn’t make the connection that a lot of those things were because I was a girl.

Nowadays, if I witness this type of behavior from male friends I try to call it out. Something that has happened a few time recently has been a male friend saying, “You look really muscular, in a good way,” and I reply, “there isn’t a bad way.”

Photo by Alexander Zoltai

Where are some of your favorite places to climb?

Kyra: Outdoors: Bishop, CA; Joes Valley, UT; Rocklands, South Africa

Indoors: B Pump Ogikubo in Tokyo; the USA Climbing Training Center; my home gym in Minnesota, The A; and Project Climbing in Japan

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Kyra: I’m hoping to do the World Cup circuit after the Olympics and then hopefully attend vet school at some point!

What do you like to do when you’re not climbing?

Kyra: I love crafts, cooking, Netflix, and cleaning (haha).

What’s your favorite crag snack?

Kyra: Peanut butter and jelly!

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