Climbing to the Top
with Kyra Condie
09 Aug, 2022 · Climbing
Olympian, and professional rock climber, Kyra Condie, talks about the highs and lows of joining a male dominated sport, what it was like being one of the first rock climbers in the Olympics, and maintaining self-care as an athlete.
Guest: Kyra Condie
“Climbing to the Top with Rock Climbing’s First Olympian!”
[00:00:00]Stef: Welcome to the voice and sport podcast. On today's episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with Kyra Condie, the first woman to represent the United States in rock climbing at the Olympics outside of her recent Olympic experience. Kyra has competed in multiple IFSC world cups. And if FSC world championships, Kyra was also named one of time magazines, next generation leaders, and appeared on the Forbes 2021 30 under 30 list. After being diagnosed with severe scoliosis at the age of 12, Kyra was advised not to continue her climbing,
but with strength and perseverance, she came back better than ever after surgery and started to dominate the sport. In this episode, Kyra shares with us how she built self-confidence that led her into all the right places and what she hopes to see for the future of a sport that does not get enough recognition.
Kyra, welcome to the voice and sport podcast.It's incredible to have I'm one of the first Olympian rock climbers with us, and it's such an amazing sport. I've always love watching the Olympics watching gymnastics And like, the things that were like closest to climbing then when we started doing our Olympic bid that kind became a potential reality and that's kinda when I when you were younger?
[00:01:17]Kyra Condie: I guess first I definitely a super, super athletic kid. Like I was always the one taking gym class very seriously. You know, I'm trying to keep up with the boys and stuff like that. I never thought I'd be an Olympian, especially once I found climbing because climbing wasn't actually in the Olympics until 2016.
And so I started climbing in 2009. So it
[00:01:37]stef: and and of
[00:01:46]Kyra Condie: that's kinda when I start.
[00:01:51]Kyra Condie: Olympics, that was when it really became like from dream to potential reality. And then, into realizing that in 2019 when I qualified,
[00:01:58]stef: yeah. It's not a yeah. It's not a sport you hear a lot about every day So I'm so interested to know, like when were you introduced to it What was the first time you actually started climbing.
[00:02:07]Kyra Condie: Yeah I think I had gone to the gym a couple times. to the gym a couple of times
You know, like kind of. Family outing as a kid. and then the one that
really made it stick was I went to a birthday party.
Somebody in my grade just had their birthday party at the local
climbing gym. And the guy who was leading the birthday party was kind of like you should, you should go to this one now.
And then, he was like, oh, maybe you
should come to this one now because I just kept doing the ones he would put me on. And then afterwards told me that there was a team at the gym, and I didn't even know that
there was, rock climbing teams. And this was of course in 2009 when climbing. Even less popular than it? is now.
So it's still a pretty underground store
sport, but it's been blowing up. And so I, yeah, in school, people would We're Like I didn't know that and stuff like that. So joined the team Yeah the team Yeah I was doing musical theater at the time. And so I stopped doing musical theater and fully dove into rock climbing
[00:02:51]stef: And how did you view And how did you view rock climbing at such a young age I love that I mean it's the things I loved about ski racing growing up similarly like it's white what you put into it and it's Like
[00:03:01]Kyra Condie: I definitely did. I think I didn't do well with team sports. I'm a pretty independent person. So like having somebody else call the shots, like a coach who like tells you which position to be in and stuff like that really didn't. Except well with me, I would disagree and not want to do it. And so having a
sport where it was totally up to me, what I would do on the wall and then people would give
advice was like perfect for me, because I could totally figure it out myself and was totally in control.
And so that's, I think still to this day, why I love rock climbing
[00:03:28]stef: I love that I mean it's the things I loved about ski racing growing up similarly like it's white what you put into it and it's you
and the mountain and it can be really rewarding Sometimes it also can be lonely So did you feel like growing up in the sport it was lonely or did you feel like you had a community that you leaned on?
[00:03:45]Kyra Condie: I think it was definitely somewhat lonely, especially if I look back on it. When I started climbing, like I said, it wasn't nearly as popular. And so I was, I was pretty good to start off and. Most of the other people in the gym were 25 year old dudes.
And so I was a 12 year old girl thinking I was cool enough to hang out with these 25 year old guys.
[00:04:04]Kyra: and you know, I just obviously was not, not hanging out with them. it would, would have been kind of weird. And So it was felt like I was constantly trying to fight into like a boys club that I wasn't a part of. And that definitely helped shape like the climber that I am today because I have. Way more aggressive climbing style, I think, than a lot of other people.
[00:04:21]Kyra Condie: And that definitely comes from trying to prove myself over and over again in the, in the bouldering cave with all these I was like when I was like super
[00:04:28]Kyra Condie: I was introduced to that whole side of competition climbing and even new to make those my goals yeah, probably one of the biggest ones that I had is right when I started on the team in Minnesota Alec Johnson, who's still climbing to this day was just winning all these world cups and. Like, I didn't even know, world cups existed in climbing. And so here she was winning them and climbing at my same gym.
[00:04:48]Kyra: And yeah, now we both live in salt lake, so that's kind of cool,
[00:04:51]Kyra Condie: but yeah, she was, I think 19 when I was 10. And so we,
19 and I was 11. And so
that was like
[00:05:03]stef: Amazing Well Well, also at a young age you discovered that you were diagnosed with severe scoliosis So can you talk a little bit about what that was like for yourself and for people who don't know what it is maybe just described you know getting that diagnosis what it is and how did you discover it
[00:05:21]Kyra: Yeah. So scoliosis, first of all is basically a curve
or bend in your spine. and so instead of my spine being, you know, perfectly straight, like, it's supposed to be, I had an S-curve, which means that basically right below my neck, it curved left. and
then under that it curved, right? So it was more like a windy road than a straight
And we caught mine really late because of that S-curve I actually looked at. like straight, like usually if somebody has scoliosis one shoulder's way lower than the other, and you can really notice by looking at them. But because I had those two balancing out curves, I still looked pretty straight up and down and that's why we caught it so late.
And so when we did catch it, I actually needed to pretty much immediately need surgery. It was already past the point of like being able to brace it. And so we basically immediately tried to find surgeons who could keep as much mobility as possible so that I could keep climbing We found Dr.
Lowenstein at Gillette children's hospital. And he was super supportive of climbing. Whereas other doctors I had seen with were really not and that was important to me and he knew it and he did my surgery and I now have 10 vertebrae fused. So basically T2 through T 12 are just one bone. So it's kind of like a single, bone where you should have where you should have a bunch of.
Wow Okay And what age were you when this happened
did it affect your Having that that thing to overcome really made me
[00:06:38]Kyra Condie: I think I was 13. It was in 2010 and I think it was nice that I was so young, cause I didn't realize the severity of the surgery itself. So I was like, of course I'll go back to climbing, like no problem. But my parents of course were super worried about it. And I'm sure the doctors were too, but the doctor I had was like I said, super supportive and told me to send him a picture
when I was back on top of the podium and that was super encouraging. And I just knowing that he knew I could do it And then I think having. That thing to overcome really super motivated and climbing when I was kind of losing some amount of interest, maybe burning out a little bit. I was too young and taking it too seriously. And so then I had it taken away from me with the surgery the surgery and then Got it back after, after, taking four months off.
months off I just like Loved it even more And I've never wanted to stop since.
Okay So then Okay. So then from, from recovering, from that incredible surgery, you know, what was your journey like between, you know, age 13, 14 through college? Because you went to college, you studied at the university of Minnesota,
[00:07:38]stef: then when you went on to the Olympics, so I'm like kind of want to stop before we get to the Olympics.
Like what happened between 13 and like, what does rock climbing look like in terms of a wouldn't for a
[00:07:48]Track 1: Uh
[00:07:48]stef: and that really was
I wasn't naturally the best. like, I wasn't the kid who was winning everything off the bat. I was naturally like pretty good, but definitely had to work super hard to then step up that level of. Winning youth nationals, for example. so I didn't win youth nationals until after my back surgery. And I think it was that extra push of motivation that that back surgery gave me to want to overcome it And prove, you know, this other doctor wrong who told me that sport wouldn't be important.
[00:08:15]Kyra: and that one day I'd have a family.
And that I
[00:08:16]Track 1: care
[00:08:17]Kyra: I wouldn't care about
[00:08:20]Track 1: needed,
[00:08:22]Kyra: like, okay,
[00:08:23]Track 1: this guy wrong.
Yeah, so I didn't win nationals until after my back surgery. And so it was kind of a slow progression and I really learned how to I really learned I think, and see that when I worked hard,
that I would
the results I wanted. And so I think
that positive reinforcement of working hard and then seeing the results really helped
me kind of pursue that dream towards
it happened, I knew that if I
towards it, that it was a
that it was.
[00:08:48]stef: I love it. Well, it happened and you represented team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the first Olympics where climbing appeared as a sport.
So what was that first moment like when you qualified and you knew you were going to be the first team going to the Olympics for
[00:09:04]Kyra: Yeah, I think I have never been so stressed in my entire life than I was at that qualifying competition. The entire season had been super stressful leading up to that. First of all, we had. Our world cup team, then you had to do well at the world cups to qualify for the qualifying event. And then you had to actually do well at the qualifying event.
And so it was like a year long process starting in January of qualifying for the team all the way until November. When I actually went to the qualifying event in Toulouse, France, and I think. More than seven hours that whole week, like in total, because I was, so panicked about this event, I just kept picturing myself climbing and, you know, topping a climb or falling at the beginning or all these different possibilities.
[00:09:44]stef: The moment that I actually qualified to actually happened Exactly how I pictured it, you know, cause obviously I've been picturing what it would be
like and, you know, I thought I would cry and that my parents would be there and that I'd had them and then I'd get a photo of it. And then I'd post that photo to Instagram with the caption.
Like I've worked so hard for this
[00:10:00]Kyra: And that's
[00:10:00]Track 1: almost Exactly what
[00:10:03]stef: I was sobbing. My parents came over and we hugged and then we got a photo of it and I posted it that night. So I'm like, oh, it was exactly how I had imagined it. It was like, kind
[00:10:11]Track 1: it It was like
[00:10:11]stef: but some amazing, well some amazing, well being one of at the Olympics, and we're an Olympian, there's kind of this side of relief because been such a long time that we had been qualified and waiting to to be there
I think because of, you know, the whole COVID situation and the year delay and all of that we were just really, really happy to be there
Really excited that the games actually went on and that we were able to do it in a safe way and get to represent our sport. You know, you're not an Olympian until you actually compete at the Olympics.
And so a lot of us were talking about who, competed there, that the moment that we get our speed climb and officially competed at the Olympics, and we're an Olympian, there's kind of this sign of relief it had just I definitely felt pressured to represent my sport. Well Well, Showcase what it is just because I think it's such an amazing sport and it's so good for your confidence and for your strength and it just everything and I'd love for more people to be involved. So that was definitely where I felt the pressure Well I mean the spotlight's I mean, the spotlight's on you right you're bouldering you're doing the speak I mean I mean it's a lot of people all eyes are on you So have you ever like.
used a sports psychologist along
the way and what benefits have you taken from working with one I. really utilize a a sport psychologist
in the last couple of years, especially leading up to that qualifying event
I was talking about and leading up to the. Just because I do have
some unique issues, especially with my back to deal with I do
have like way limited mobility that nobody I'm competing against has
well, that exact
[00:11:36]Kyra: And so, you, know, learning how to deal with a crime that is maybe super challenging for me in particular, because of that was something that she really helped me with. Oh, So just, you know, how to train with your competitors. Cause like here we are in salt
had always claimed alone in Minnesota.
[00:11:51]stef: And here there's a bunch of girls who are all like my same age ish all training for the same goals. And it's just interesting to have that dynamic of everybody being super So super supportive. So how to, how to manage that and, you know use it to your best advantage. Well I'm not getting too stressed, I guess. That was something we would talk about and then also how to manage body image issues, and all all sorts of
[00:12:12]Kyra: All sorts
[00:12:13]Track 1: of
[00:12:13]stef: like that.
[00:12:14]Kyra: like that in
[00:12:14]stef: Yeah, we're going to get Yeah, we're going to get , into those conversations today, both body image and confidence, because we know it's one of those things also in the sport of running and climbing, like it can be unfortunately, something that a lot of young women face. before we get there though I do before we get there, though, I do want to know a little bit more about the different disciplines of rock climbing and especially for our audience that might not know. So there's bouldering speed climbing and lead
climbing. Tell us a little bit about which one you prefer. And which do you cater more to when you're, when you're doing your trainings?
Yeah. So the Olympics were a unique format that we actually had never had before. We only got one metal, but we have three disciplines, like you just said. And so we really wanted something that would showcase all three disciplines while still using only one metal. And so we did a combined format, which combines your rank of each discipline.
you had to be really well-rounded introduced speed gumming. You had to do lead climbing and you had to do bouldering and. Speak on these pretty self explanatory. It's the same wall anywhere you can kind of the same wall in Chicago, as you could in Munich, Germany, you know, like same exact wall, all specs the same.
[00:13:20]stef: And so, and that's just about how fast you can do it. Bouldering is my favorite discipline and what I trained the most and it's short climbs where you fall to the ground onto a mat, and it's more about strength and power and you get multiple tries per. And you get five minutes to try and do it. And then in legal, I mean, you actually only get Some more endurance based event.
And so you do more like 50 or 60 moves and it's about how far you about how far you get. climber or other people Great climbers What is It that the ground Yeah, you are like,
[00:13:51]Track 1: climbing
because you are
constantly failing. Like if you look
[00:13:54]Track 1: on the internet, all you see is
[00:13:56]Kyra: people topping climbs and all this, but behind
is so many
falls. And so it, you really get
good at finding the
wins in your fails. So, you know,
[00:14:06]stef: Getting closer to holding a hole, but that's sometimes the wind that you have to look at versus, you know, actually doing a climb. that are not
doing it. but not actually. What makes strength
[00:14:19]Track 1: core strength
[00:14:20]stef: or other people? Great climbers. What Well some people describe your climbing style as aggressive and others Describe it as
[00:14:26]Kyra: Definitely there's physical aspects as well as mental aspects. Problem solving is a really big part of climbing. Sometimes you'll look at a climb and be like, I have no idea how to do this. And so you just have to figure out how to position your body, how to hold the holds, what you can do different between tries to make yourself be able to do it.
And so that, that big problem solving. And then there's also the physicality of it. Of course, like you, it's pretty full body.
lot of upper
body strength, core strength,
And a lot of
technique as well.
[00:14:53]stef: Well, some people describe your climbing style as aggressive and others. Describe it as reckless, I think is the word that I read that I wrote so do you feel like those are accurate assessments I love that Well why do you think rock climbing took so long be
[00:15:04]Kyra: I think it's definitely true. Like I, I think I climb a lot more powerfully. Then a lot of my female competitors that I compete against just because I really like moving fast. I think I have more fast Twitch muscle than like slow Twitch muscle. I think if I
had not found climbing, I maybe would have been a sprinter or something like that.
Just cause it works Well, It's just how my body is I just move fast. I talk fast and do everything fast. But yeah, I guess.
[00:15:31]stef: I love that Well why do you think rock climbing took so long to be part of the Olympic games? And why do you think that the Federation has taken to so long to add the sport?
[00:15:39]kyra_condie: Yeah, I think climbing is just a little bit more, counter-culture kind of like skateboarding or surfing, even watching skateboarding, documentaries. I see so many similarities to climbing and it's kind of cool that we got into the game at the same time, just because of the. You know, similarities, but I think that's kind of why it took so long for
the IOC to add us to
the Olympic roster, just because
it's not what the game's history has been.
You know, history is in like
equestrian and these like really old school sports
wrestling, things like
that. And so adding these
new school sports is definitely going to bring a much younger audience and I think it took time for them to realize that they
[00:16:14]stef: Yeah, it was the general manager of Nike skateboarding when,
We were working with the IOC to convince them, to bring skateboarding in. And it was definitely really divided in the community of skateboarding. Like some were all in and
Wanted it to be in the Olympics and be a sport. And.
People in the community were like, absolutely not like that will ruin the sport. So is that sort of,
Divide within the climbing and.
[00:16:37]kyra_condie: There is definitely that worry from everybody from old guys who have been climbing in Yosemite since they were 25 and are now 70, to people who are currently competing and were worried that it would ruin, where climbing has come from in competition. But I think basically everybody that I've heard thinks of it very positively now that it has happened in the games.
And I think we're all aware that. Yeah. The, the first games, it was, this weird combined format, but it was the best stepping stone to hopefully getting
three distinct disciplines in
[00:17:10]stef: Well, and how do you, I mean, I want to ask this question because as women athletes, we know that we're unfortunately not getting paid yet. Like the men. So is it the similar situation for Rockwell? That industry. How do you monetize your life as an athlete in.
And is it the same between men and women?
[00:17:26]kyra_condie: Yeah, I actually think climbing's pretty even when it comes to men and women getting paid, like our, prize money is the same. Our world cups take place at the same event. Men and women qualify on the same day and then our finals are obviously separate. But prize money is exactly the same.
Spectating is the same. It's on the same live streams, things like that. So I think as far as that goes, it's, really, like equality is there. It kind of depends on your personal sponsorships. So that's how, most of my income comes from is from personal partnerships with brands
and, Instagram, followings, things like that.
And so that's where most of my,
Income comes from and I work with an
to help me get those
brand deals like that.
[00:18:01]stef: Yeah, I mean, that's like the number one thing. Mostly it's not prize money across the different sports. Fleets or for men actually it's it really comes from sponsorships.
So do you think the sponsorship opportunities are equal between men and women?
[00:18:14]stef: definitely too of
[00:18:17]kyra_condie: too, a lot of
the women have better Instagram followings in climbing. And so,
and like, you know, are more active on social media than a lot of the guys. And so I think that adds to
being able to.
Get a better deal
to begin with. But obviously
that's really unique to climbing and not,
Totally true across the board, but I think we're definitely something to be looked at
when it seems
when, when you're looking for an example of what to do,
there's a few things I think,
For quality infant payments.
[00:18:43]Kate: thank you for listening to the voice and sport podcast. This is just a quick inter delude from Kate. Tugman the producer of this voice and sport podcast episode. I run track and cross country at UCLA. I love working with voice and sport in order to empower young girls and women in sports. I would love if you could join us in trying to make a change, go follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter at voice and sport.
For more amazing content, you can also sign up for free and join our community of female email@example.com for mentorship, sports, content inspiration.
Thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the episode and let's get back to it.
[00:19:17]stef: Well, what are some things that you really are proud of when it comes to the sport of rock climbing that when you encourage other young girls to get into the sport or at least considered.
It's really taught me a lot about both life
you know how to deal with failure
gracefully, you know
Like I said, you fall constantly well climbing. And so being
able to overcome that and learn from it is something that I applied to life very
think it just really teaches you how to.
that well, and I also
think the community in climbing is just incredible. Like
all of my best friends are all climbers, who I've met through climbing.
And it's something that you can do for your entire life. Like something like football is really hard to do once you get, you
know, over 40, maybe Tom Brady's the one example, but climbing you can, I see
old women climbing top ropes at the gym and just crushing and you know, it's like, I plan to be that one
[00:20:08]stef: I love that. Well, are there any specific resources you'd like to share to help other young girls get more informed about rock climbing and how to get
[00:20:15]kyra_condie: There's tons of, you know, organizations around
brown girls climb is a really good one.
I'm trying to think. Put me on the spot a little bit.
There's a lot of gyms have teams,
Youth teams specifically. So.
If you reach out to a gym, they maybe have some sort of women's climbing night or a team.
And so reaching out to them and seeing if
they have either of those things would be a really good way to get started.
A lot of universities also have climbing teams. Now there's a
So yeah, that would be
my best advice for, for getting.
[00:20:44]stef: I would love to dive a little bit more into like this mindset piece that you're talking about and like how to deal with failure and, and all of those things, because you were named one of time, magazine's next generation leaders, which is pretty incredible.
So in what ways are you a leader within and outside of sport and how has rock climbing really fostered that leadership in you?
[00:21:05]kyra_condie: Let's see I'm on the board of USA climbing, so I'm one of the athlete directors I'm on the board. And so, something that I'm really passionate about is definitely. Advocating for the athlete voice. And so I really try to talk to my peers and make sure that I am getting a representative view from everybody about what I'm presenting to the board, as far as the athlete opinion.
Even if it disagrees with my opinion that's something that's definitely really important to me. I'm also on multiple athlete commissions, so the USA climbing one, the international Federation of sport climbing's athlete commission, as well as our Pan-American athlete commission. And I'm also now on the U S OPC.
So the United States Olympic and Paralympic. At the commission. And so all of those things just, come back to advocating for athletes. And that comes from a variety of angles, whether it's team selection. So being able to go to world cups or making the sport more inclusive and fair and things like that.
Those are the things that I'm really passionate about for
[00:21:53]stef: Yeah, let's talk about that because we know it's a predominantly white sport and, you know, you even were quoted, I think talking about just racism and sexism within the rock climbing community, when you were interviewed by time magazine. So. Can you unpack that a little bit for us? Like, why do you think that is and what is it that we can do to create a more supportive, inclusive environment in rock climbing?
[00:22:16]kyra_condie: Yeah. I think the barrier to entry to climbing is definitely a little steep. You need to have climbing shoes and a harness and chalk bags and chalk and all these things. And then a gym and. And or to have some sort of mentor to bring you outside and teach you how to climb outside to begin with. And so that's like, you know, just that activation energy to be able to be into climbing in the first place is definitely part of it.
And then, yeah, just being a predominantly white sport, you know, that's what most of the media portrays it as it's white people climbing. And so if you start, that's just one area where you can work in making. Even just look more inclusive so people can even imagine themselves doing it to begin with.
And you know, our of
community has been Growing immensely and we really want to get pair of climbing
into the Paralympics as
well. And so that's something that,
really want to grow and just keep continuing to grow the sport
just because, I think it's an amazing sport
for more people to get into, but like, we need to figure out ways
That barrier to entry, essentially. And that's definitely something where we're
working on with USA climbing and tons of gyms and organizations across the country are working on it. My
friend, Kai has climbing for
change that provides grants,
people to be able to compete and things like that.
And there's tons of other stuff
around that like that. So
definitely something that's been, you know, growing
and it's really exciting
to see. And we've
been working on inclusive policies with USA climbing with our DEI
committee to make sure that, you know, there's trans inclusion in
Things like that.
[00:23:37]stef: I love it. Well, what advice would you have to anybody out there that's in the climbing industry, whether they're just in the community as an amateur climber or they're covering media, or they're in a leadership position or running a gym, like what would be, you know, a piece of advice for everybody out there to ensure that your mate, we are all making climbing a more inclusive environment.
[00:23:58]kyra_condie: I would say.
Definitely making safe spaces, you know, making a women's only climbing night or making a BiPAP climbing night, things like that. I think do a lot to grow the community and like
lot of people to, you know, meet other people who are in similar positions and stuff like that.
know, providing even if like,
memberships and just a few, can
makes a huge difference.
off the top of my head, a couple of secrets.
[00:24:23]stef: well, you've talked a lot about the importance of leading by example and influencing those around you for better. But it's so important to understand that leadership has a lot to do with confidence, right? So I want to dive in a little bit to confidence and what your perspective is. Around creating confidence for yourself whether that's in your sport or your life what are some of the things that you've personally faced?
Just dealing with confidence as a young woman in sport, and how do you built it up over the years?
[00:24:49]kyra_condie: I think, you know, something that I combine naturally is that I have a lot of blind confidence is kind of how my roommate has put it. Like, I'm just like, yeah, I can do that. No problem. Whether it's flipping the door in my house so that it opens the other way, or, you know, being able to do a
climb, both of those things, I'm
just like, I can do that. No problem.
Or overcoming back surgery. I was
never even worried
about it because I was
like, I can definitely do that. It's
But I think that type of attitude
definitely misconstrued, especially when I was a
know, adult men would see me and call me out,
arrogant or that I
Too confident and looking back, it makes me so mad that some
guy who was, 25 would tell a 13 year old girl that she's too confident because there's
I think, you know,
Confidence should be
fostered and it should be done well,
You can be
you can learn your lesson,
being overly arrogant, you know?
But I think,
Hard to come by as
a woman in our world. And so we should definitely foster it and make sure that a young
get told that
[00:25:50]stef: Well, some girls lose a lot of their confidence because they're basing it off of what their coach says or somebody else says, right? Like, you just described. So how do you go about talking with your coach? If you do feel like your coach is putting you down,
[00:26:04]kyra_condie: I think, making sure you stand
up for yourself is super important. I think that.
But again, I
I it's part of my personality is if I thought somebody
with me, I would bring it up to them and be like, I think you wronged me basically.
Which is hard to do, especially if
who, maybe other people are even agreeing with them. And so I really
try to look at a situation.
it and think, is this good criticism, is this something that'll make me into a better
Or is this something that is
bringing me down?
And then if it
bringing you down for, no good reason.
For example, telling a 13 year old girl that she's too confident,
Ben, bringing it up, say, I think that's not something you should say to
me and things like that.
easier said than
it's even easier to do over email or something like that, so that you don't have to deal with emotions and you can reread what you're
something that I've had to
in the past.
[00:26:53]stef: Well, growing up, you know, I mean, this is one of the main things that main reasons why we built voice in sport is we want to give young girls confidence, to keep playing sport.
And unfortunately we know a lot of the systemic issues within the sports industry. contribute to why they fall out And we want to create a safer environment, a safer space and a community of women that are going to really help them and lean on them. So, you know, when you think back about your experience as a young woman especially in a sport that does have a lot to strength and power, you know, it's you and the wall.
And a lot of that, unfortunately can lead back to comparing yourself to others and body image. So can you just talk a little bit about like, The sport in where it's at with healthy body image nutrition. And what, advice you might have for the young girls out there that might be facing some of those challenges?
[00:27:40]kyra_condie: Definitely I think, it's a super hard subject to talk about. And climbing definitely is still in
infancy As far as learning, how to deal with these problems. And it is something that
is really, really common in climbing because climbing is a strength of body, weight ratio sport, especially.
I think there's just
tons of examples in the media of, you know, people looking really skinny and starting to climb really hard. And you
see that and you think
that that is the only way that you can get to those goals or.
Climb that hard.
so I think something that I've
been really passionate about is being
vocal about You
don't have to do that in order to reach those goals. Personally, I've never struggled with an eating disorder. I've
it, my whole life just being in
climbing. But you know, I've made the Olympics. So,
something that I really wanted to make sure I
drew a point to because you usually only hear these
People after they've
gone through it and saying like, oh,
I shouldn't have done that, but I also was winning. And so making sure
tell the stories of people who didn't
and we're also winning or doing
well, pushing limits
in a healthy way, I think is super important so that, it's
possible to do it in that
How have you considered like nutrition in terms of like your performance?
How have you integrated that along the way? And were you always like really good at fueling your body even in like those high school, college years? Or has, is it something that you've developed
[00:28:55]kyra_condie: I remember
college, my roommate, I was living with two guys and one of them was like, you cook more than anybody I've ever seen cooking college. I was like, weird. I thought everybody cooked. I it's just how I thought it went. But that's figured out what I like to eat.
And then I feel really good about, knowing what I'm how I've always managed my own nutrition is I cook a lot, figured out what I like to eat. I don't try to restrict anything. I think that's like kind of a slippery slope to get down, especially just being surrounded by it in climbing. And so, I try not to restrict, but I try not to overdo anything too
much, you know?
[00:29:28]stef: So, what do you do if you. Assuming, and maybe I'm wrong here, but if you have seen some of your teammates or friends that are,
going down a path, that's not healthy with their relationship with food and restricting food intake, what, can you do as a supportive teammate to really be there for them?
[00:29:45]kyra_condie: I think it's super hard. Just because in climbing, especially, usually the people who you're seeing go through it are people who are directly competing with. Bringing it up with them on a personal note, it can be really
it can seem like you're just being too competitive or something like that. So I've
to do more behind
the scenes work as far as
Making awareness in
general. And then hopefully bring it up to,
Coaches and things like that
that they can maybe approach it, Because it could potentially be better coming from a coach and from a
peer in that scenario.
[00:30:14]stef: Yeah. It's definitely a hard one. And the sport of running it's one that is really concerning for young girls, because there's a lot of body comparison. And then when you go to college, a lot of the coaches and the staff there are asking you to do consistent tests with your body fat Whether it's the DEXA machines or any other sort of form of testing, and then sharing those. So, is that something that you faced, in college and what advice would you have to the girls today that might be in that situation college, where they're constantly having their body examined based off of their ratio of, percentage and in any given week.
have not had to do that, like in front of
like my coaches and stuff like that. We've
them out of curiosity, if DEXA scans and stuff like that. And also just for the bone density aspect of it, because that can be a really good teller of whether or not you're getting the
right nutrition But the one
time that we
did do a
I remember the guys on our
team were kind of having
like. almost a competition about who's was Lois
and stuff. And like, looking back on
it, it's like, man, that maybe was not the
best attitude to have
towards that. And
you can see how it compounds on itself and how it leads to other issues, you know?
I would say,
I don't know what the
way to approach that is. I think
knowing. You healthy and if you feel good and you can have energy while you're
running or while
you're doing your sport, That's, what's
most important because that's how you're gonna make those gains. And so knowing
The number on the
sheet, isn't a tale of how good of an athlete you are.
app that you are is what you
put into it,
feel while you're doing.
Being able to do it for a long time to, you know, like usually those gains of losing
weight only last a few years, max,
and you'll get injured and then you won't be able to do your sport
for the rest of your life potentially. It's something that's not worth
it. You know, the short-term gains
are not going to be
[00:31:59]stef: I totally agree. And you know, I'm assuming that you have dreams of going back to the next Olympics. So tell me a little bit about what your next four years look like, and what's on the plate for you, both in athletics, but also outside of.
[00:32:13]kyra_condie: I actually really
know what I'm going to do
as far as like next Olympics. But
do still have a lot of like
world couples and
that. I'm definitely not done competing yet. This year was
post crazy COVID Olympics
So I was having a hard time finding the joy in competition that I was finding
before, which still have just endless motivation to
train, but then actually at a competition,
just like, I don't want to be here. And so I did the method
of trying to.
switch my focus this year. And so I'm doing more lead climbing than I ever have.
And I'm going to be competing on the lead circuit and not the bouldering circuit, for a few reasons. We are having is a lot less hard on my back. Bouldering has gotten really funky and twisty and bendy, which all do not do well when you have metal rods in your back.
I'm thinking, I'm hoping to
have a break from bouldering
relive competition, bouldering, And
focus on lead climbing this year and, you know, really gain that back and
just kind of see what my limits are if
I dedicate myself
[00:33:10]stef: I think a lot of athletes go through that, like burnout, how do you avoid that?
And when you, when you found yourself in that, in that scenario, did you find your motivation again?
[00:33:18]kyra_condie: So like the burnout for me, interestingly enough, was only in competition. I loved going to the gym every day, bouldering climbing, lead climbing, doing whatever. Like I was still super, super motivated to train, which was weird. And then the competitions just. I just had almost PTSD from all this training, all these weaknesses that I had leading up to the Olympics, I just didn't want to train those things And so the way I dealt with it is just following the psych and doing what I want to do and doing that for at least half of a year, you know, going to the gym. And if I want to work on competition, style boulders, I'll do it. But if I don't, I won't do it, I'll be something else. And you know, all of those things benefit my train.
[00:33:57]stef: I love that. And we talk a lot about it. Voice and sports. The, passions and things you do outside of sport is also equally important. So what are some of the things that you love? We think we read a little bit about your love , for pets and for veterinarian school, maybe someday. So is that happening and what do you do, just to keep yourself in the right mindset by ensuring you have other passions outside of rock climbing.
[00:34:20]kyra_condie: Yeah, something that I've been really excited about for the last two years is just becoming a better all-around athlete. Climbers are historically terrible at other sports. And so we've been playing a bunch of volleyball. I did like track workouts with my boyfriend. Just all sorts of things like that, just to become a better all around athlete because
climbers are like, absolutely. Hand-eye coordination, sports, And that'll just benefit my climate, so that's something I've been really psyched on. Obviously I have two cats who have been fighting in the background and they're my pride and joy. And then I actually did just get accepted into a master's program that's entirely online, and it's not vet school yet, but it's part of the vet school at the university of Florida. And it'll be a masters in shelter medicine.
just something to boost my resume so that eventually
I'll be able to go to a vet
if I still want to.
[00:35:03]stef: That's amazing. Well, I, think it's so important to, have those other things outside of your sport too. So what are some of the things just like tactical and practical things you do to take care of yourself, each week, share what those tips are that you have for the other young girls out there?
[00:35:17]kyra_condie: Definitely. One of the big things is I've been trying to drink more water.
It's just so hard to
do for some reason. But my method for
is I just now have a water bottle that
I keep out. And if I see it's empty,
And it has made me
drink so much more water. I try and
stretch after every session to make sure that I'm
taking care of myself
make sure to have time to just chill and watch a movie. I give myself an actual entire day off, because if you are constantly.
Things like every
day, especially in your sport
start seeing a decline in results. You know, you need to give yourself
rest day so that
can have a good day And I think that's super
What else do?
cook a lot, like I
said, I really love
cooking. and then I also treat myself to, I'll say you bulls
if I feel like it. be nice. to
yourself That's a big
[00:36:02]stef: That is a big one. Appreciate yourself and show, love, and a big one. What do you think, you would love to encourage and share to other girls out there that might be interested in trying rock climbing. Why do you think they should potentially give it a shot?
[00:36:15]kyra_condie: I think it's a great complimentary just because it is so full body and it's so different from, things like soccer or volleyball and stuff like that. And so it's just a great form of cross training. That's just really fun. And I kind of feel the same way when I go play volleyball or soccer or.
I'm like, man, this is just so much more fun than doing squats at the gym. And if you're looking
something that's A better
core and upper body
more interesting and engaging. That's definitely a really good reason to
try it. And it
might be something that you love and you might meet some really cool
[00:36:44]stef: Love it. Well, what is one single piece of advice you would tell your younger self?
[00:36:51]kyra_condie: I would definitely say to take the opinion. Men with a grain of salt. I think that was something I definitely got too caught up on too often as that I find like think back, it still makes me mad. Like I said, use that evaluation of is this good criticism, like helpful. That's gonna make me a better person
or is it
And it's something that's just bringing me down
and, you know, making
evaluation. And if it's
something that's bringing you down,
[00:37:19]stef: It's so important to be able to like, take an accept criticism, right? It's like one of those things as an athlete, you want to be coached and you need to be coached in order to like really, move forward.
But, I think what you're talking about is just so important. It probably happens verbal abuse more than we know. So what did that look like for you? And what advice would you have for girls that might be going through that today? Cause sometimes it can be hard to. Call it out and recognize it.
So when you reflect back on your experiences, like your comment, you just had, what forms did that take for you and how can other young girls maybe learn from that experience?
[00:37:58]kyra_condie: Yeah, it's kind of a hard question. I think it's a little bit like a morphous, I guess. But if I think about it, like the scenarios that I've been in, where afterwards I was like, that was not helpful in any way was I would think about it afterwards and, think about how I acted and how they acted.
If it made me mad , after the fact then I re-evaluated it. And that's when I really thought about, that
of, is this
something that is making me into a better person, or is
this something that is
down cause there is
criticism that makes
you into a
better athlete, you know,
maybe you're slacking off and you're on your phone too much at practice or something like that.
That is good criticism, like, you know, work hard. But if somebody is yet telling you you're too confident or like. You're bitchy or something like that, that's not helpful. Maybe if they're telling you that , your teammates are offended, that's good criticism.
Like you don't want to be offending your teammates, you know? I'm just spit balling examples now.
But If it's
your personality is not good,
Cause you can't change your
[00:38:56]stef: yeah, I think that's so important. What you just said. I think if people are commenting about your personality or being too aggressive, right? Those are the things you want to be like, wait a minute.
Let's, let's take a step back and see where this is coming from. And especially if you're in a sport where it's mostly. Male dominated coaches or you don't feel like you have enough other women around you. So I think it's just important. I think to name it, like to name it, to talk about it. So.
I appreciate you sharing those examples because we want other girls out there that might feel like, you know, maybe they leave practice and they're just like not feeling good and they can't put their finger on it. You know, it's important. I think just to talk about these things.
[00:39:33]kyra_condie: Yeah, I did
a talk at a, at a women's day recently. And one of the other women who talked was the BYU track coach. And listening to her talk. I was like, man, I wish I had you as my coach growing up. Her whole thing was that she wanted to empower women. But that still means, you know, Like a hard coat, you know, like you're still yelling at people at practice, all these things, but that doesn't mean that you're not being empowering in that case.
And so, yeah, I think really just seeing what the difference is there, are they empowering you to make you a better person or is it not?
know, so That's a really good way to live.
[00:40:03]stef: Okay. Well, we ask this question to every guest on the voice and sport podcasts. So. For your sport, you're in actually a position of power because you're on the board. You just went to the Olympics, you have a platform. So I can't wait to see what you do for the future in the sport of rock climbing, but what would be one thing that you would like to see change for the future of women's sports?
[00:40:23]kyra_condie: The big thing. The equality in viewership, , and seeing that relate to payment, especially like, the women's soccer team, for example, it gets more views and is paid significantly less than the men's soccer team. So things like that are definitely things that I would just love to see changed, in my near lifetime.
that's the obvious answer.
would love to see more women
leadership roles as well.
I think, even most of the NGBs,
which is national government governing bodies of the U S Olympic committees or Olympic sports and Paralympic sports are still mostly male dominated most of the staff.
And so, you know, seeing more women in those positions and ideally previous athletes, taking those positions so that can relate to that because we're doing the sports is something that I'd be really sad.
[00:41:06]stef: Absolutely. Okay. Well, to end our amazing conversation, just want to say a big thank you for spending your time with the voice and sport community. And end on just, if you were a young girl who's 13, right now, it might be sitting here listening to this podcast. What is something that you would want to whisper to a
13 year old self.
[00:41:25]kyra_condie: I could
I would say like hard work pays off.
Be nice to yourself.
like you got this, like those are probably the three things.
[00:41:34]stef: I love it. Perfect way to end. Well, thank you So, much for, coming to the voice and sport podcast and we look forward to see all the amazing things you do in the future for the sport.
[00:41:44]kyra_condie: So, yeah. Thanks so much for having me.
[00:41:47]stef: this week's episode was produced and edited by viz creator. Kate Tugman a track and cross country runner from UCLA. We're so grateful that Kira shared her journey with us today regarding struggling with scoliosis throughout her climbing career, becoming one of the first rock climber, Olympians, and more as you leave this podcast, we want you to remember that no one can define your athletic ability except for you.
For most of her career, Kira believed that she would never be an Olympian because rock climbing was not offered in the games. However, she became one in 2021 when it was finally added. Never give up on your athletic dreams, because as long as you keep working hard, taking care of yourself and balancing your life, you can accomplish anything.
You can find Kira on Instagram at Kira underscore Condi to follow along with her journey. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok at voice and sport. Leave us a review. Subscribe, share our podcast with your friends to show support. You might also wanna check out some of our latest episodes like episode number 81 with professional athletes, unlimited pro lacrosse player, Kayla Wood on overcoming adversity and focusing on the present moment.
Head to the feed on voice and sport and filter by journey or by your sport. And spend some time diving into the incredible free resources we have at vis check out the sessions, page and filter by professional athlete or journey and sign up for one of the free or paid sessions with our vis league or vis experts.
See you next week on the voice and sport podcast.
Olympian, and professional rock climber, Kyra Condie, talks about the highs and lows of joining a male dominated sport, what it was like being one of the first rock climbers in the Olympics, and maintaining self-care as an athlete.