Arguably the most recognizable female climber today, Sierra Blair-Coyle hardly needs an introduction. When she’s not climbing and modeling, this 20-year-old keeps busy studying marketing at Arizona State University and interacting with her some 200,000 Facebook followers. We caught up with Sierra to get a glimpse into her everyday life, her career, and just how she got there.
CXC: How did you first get introduced to climbing, and what made it stick?
SBC: The first time I climbed was on a wall at a local outdoor mall. I instantly loved climbing and would beg my parents to take me back every single day! The guys who ran the wall were very encouraging, and they would let me climb to my heart’s content. After this, I told my parents that I wanted to start competing in rock climbing. At the time, they did not know that climbing was an organized sport. Luckily, there was an article in the newspaper two weeks later about a local climbing team and how they had just competed at Nationals. I immediately went to the gym, joined the team, and started competing!
CXC: While the combination of athlete and model has existed in other sports (David Beckham, Anna Kournikova), you are arguably the first climber/model. Are there times when you just want to climb? Or just want to model?
SBC: Climbing and modeling has been a lot of fun for me. Before I discovered climbing, I wanted to become a model, actress, and singer. After I discovered climbing, I wanted to become a professional rock climber. Being able to do both is like living two childhood dreams, so to speak.
CXC: Would you say that modeling fuels your climbing career or that climbing fuels your modeling career?
SBC: My climbing career fuels my modeling career. I was definitely a climber before I was a model!
CXC: What would you attribute to becoming one of the most well known American female climbers?
SBC: Interacting with fans has been a huge part of becoming recognized. However, I don’t interact with people for notoriety, I interact with people because I love people. If I can answer a question, give encouragement, give a recommendation, etc., I am just happy to help.
CXC: Anyone in the spotlight will receive both praise and criticism. What do you get called out for? What truth is there in the criticism?
SBC: Unfortunately, everyone receives criticism, whether they are in the spotlight or out of the spotlight. People can criticize you for anything, from not liking your earrings, to your personality, to your choice of pet. What I have learned is that negativity says more about the speaker than it does about the subject.
CXC: As one of the most recognizable female climbers out there today, do you feel a responsibility to represent the sport and yourself in a certain way? If so, what types of qualities do you want to want to represent?
SBC: I am always trying to represent both myself and climbing. I try and show people that climbing is an incredible sport where you can become involved in a community, push yourself, have fun, travel to unseen places, and so much more. That being said, climbing is magical and I can never do it enough justice!
CXC: It seems like family is really important to you. Can you talk about the role your family has played in who you are?
SBC: My family is very important to me, and they are awesome! My parents have always been very involved in my life and in climbing. They raised me well and taught me how to be a good person. My biggest wish is that I hope to be as amazing as my parents one day. I have also been lucky enough to have a great older sister and wonderful extended family.
CXC: Who are some of your role models (climbing or non-climbing?)
SBC: My parents are my biggest role models at this point in my life. I truly look up to them and aspire to create a life similar to the one they have created for themselves as well as me and my sister.
CXC: You were a two-time Junior National Speed Climbing Champ. Do you ever speed climb anymore? If not, why not?
SBC: I speed climb on occasion, but I don’t train for it at all. We have one speed bouldering competition a year at my gym, so I enter that. I also entered speed bouldering at Dominion Riverrock last year. I always forget how much of a workout it is to speed climb! My arms, legs, skin, and whole body are trashed the next day.
CXC: What are your future aspirations with climbing? And with other interests of yours?
SBC: In climbing I want to take myself as far as possible. I want to work hard, climb harder, travel more, experience more, and expose as many people as possible to the sport. I would also love to win a professional competition and compete on the World Cup circuit. Outside of climbing, I want to live a life that I love, doing what I love. It would be great to model more, travel (even more!), work with animal shelters, go to graduate school…the list goes on. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish in this life!
CXC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
SBC: In five years I see myself dating Liam Hemsworth. Okay just kidding. Realistically, I see myself doing a lot of what I am doing now, minus the stress of attending University. In five years I want to still be training, competing, and traveling, but with more/different opportunities. It amazes me that five years ago I was looking forward to my 16th birthday and now I am almost 21. So much has changed in that time period and I can’t even begin to imagine what my life will be like in 2020.
Thank you so much to Sierra for chatting with us!
And thank you to her sponsors for helping her live the dream: Sanuk, Roxy, SPY, fuel:one, Sierra Sage Herbs, Climb X Gear, BlueWater Ropes, Asana Climbing, & Quotable Cards.