Kyra Condie

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Kyra Condie, decade after severe back surgery, qualifies for Olympic sport climbing

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Ten years ago, a nurse practitioner told a crying Kyra Condie that climbing wasn’t that important. Condie needed back surgery for severe idiopathic scoliosis, which could have ended her sport climbing career at age 13.

“Turns out, climbing IS pretty important to me and it was that moment that made me choose a different surgeon,” was posted on Condie’s social media.

She underwent 10-vertebrae spinal fusion surgery to correct a 70-degree curvature the following March.

“I’m lucky I did [the surgery], because his approach was to fuse less vertebrae and leave me with more mobility which has been crucial to my climbing,” was posted on Condie’s social media.

That decision led Condie on a path that, on Friday, hit a milestone marker — qualifying for the first U.S. Olympic sport climbing team. Condie earned her spot by reaching the final of an Olympic qualifier in Toulouse, France.

She is the third American to qualify for the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, joining Brooke Raboutou and Nathaniel Coleman. One more man can make the U.S. team at a Pan Am qualifier in three months.

Condie is a Twin Cities native who graduated from the University of Minnesota last year and recently moved to Salt Lake City. She was 25th at the world championships in August.

Overall, 26 athletes have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. A full roster is here. The team will eventually eclipse 500 athletes.

Olympic sport climbing will feature one set of medals per gender, the event combining three disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

From Tokyo 2020: Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall at a 95-degree angle. Winning times are generally between five and eight seconds. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a four-meter wall in a specified time without safety ropes. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 meters in height within a fixed time with safety ropes.

The sport debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Buenos Aires, but no Americans were entered.

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In the fall of 2009, I had a nurse practitioner tell me that I could stop crying because “climbing isn’t that important” and that “one day you’ll have a family and you’ll realize you don’t need to be sad.” Turns out, climbing IS pretty important to me and it was that moment that made me choose a different surgeon to perform my 10 vertebrae spinal fusion. I’m lucky I did, because his approach was to fuse less vertebrae and leave me with more mobility which has been crucial to my climbing. It’s now been 9 years since my surgery (March 12th, 2010) and it still amazes me how little I even notice my restricted mobility. I do tend to have trouble on certain types of moves, but there’s almost always another method to avoid twisting and sideways bending (the two motions I have trouble with). If anyone has any questions about my recovery or anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask 😁 I love talking to other people with a spinal fusion! Photo 1: pre back surgery Photo 2: post back surgery Photo 3: post back surgery rib hump (from the remaining curve in my spine) Photo 4: @greg_mionske photo from the Vail World Cup! #scoliosis #spinalfusion

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