Known for her quick and aggressive climbing style, Kyra has been a force to be reckoned with on the US competition circuit for many years and is increasingly making name for herself on the world stage. In early 2019 she won USA Climbing’s Combined Competition of speed, bouldering and lead, and in December she earned herself a coveted spot at the 2020 Olympics by placing 15th at the Toulouse Olympic qualifying event.
Born and raised in Shoreview, Minnesota, Kyra was introduced to climbing when she was 11 years old at a birthday party at a climbing wall. After this she joined the local team and started climbing regularly. However, less than a year after her introduction to the sport Kyra was diagnosed with severe idiopathic scoliosis and had to undergo significant spinal fusion surgery to correct the 70° “S” curve in her back.
“I got back pain,” says Kyra, “but I figured it wasn’t bad enough for surgery. But then I got the call from my doctor saying I’d need to get surgery and [I] just burst into tears.”
It wasn’t until she faced surgery that Kyra realised how important climbing was to her. The first doctor she went to see told her to forget climbing, that it didn't matter and that she wouldn’t care about it later in life. In response Kyra and her family began to look for an alternative doctor. A different doctor was much more forthcoming, assuring Kyra that she would be back on the podium in no time and that she would be able to climb again four months after surgery if she followed his strict instructions.
And he was right. Only 18 months after her surgery Kyra won Youth Bouldering Nationals. This began a several-year stint of top finishes at national and divisional competitions—for lead, speed and bouldering, we might add—cumulating in her first World Cup event at Vail in 2013, where she placed 29th.
“I didn't know if I really loved climbing enough to pursue it,” says Kyra, “but surgery made me realize how much I loved climbing.”