Athletes of Kingston: Sadie Schmidt Stutzman

By Abbey McCauley

At 14 years old, Sadie Schmidt Stutzman will be the youngest athlete representing Canada at the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Climbing Youth World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. Read on to learn how this young Kingston climber scaled the walls of the Boiler Room Climbing Gym to the world stage of climbing.  

Sadie’s climbing journey began at six years old when she attended kids’ climbing sessions at the Boiler Room. What started as a curiosity quickly transformed into a passion for climbing. In 2017, she competed in her first competitive climbing event and has trained as a climber at the Boiler Room ever since. During the 2019–2020 climbing season, she swept the season, winning every competition in her category. 2023 is the first year she is eligible to compete at the IFSC Climbing Youth World Championships.  

Sadie training at the Boiler Room Climbing Gym / Credit: Sherri Schmidt Stutzman

Sadie has practiced various styles of climbing but is focused on bouldering. Bouldering is climbing short, challenging routes (known as problems) over boulders without using ropes or harnesses. When bouldering, the climber’s goal is to reach as many tops and zones as they can during a problem, within a time limit of four minutes per problem.  

Sadie’s climbing style is defined by her ability to tackle these short but intense routes, requiring a combination of strength, agility, and problem-solving skills. When asked what skills make her a successful climber, she says, “I think knowing what to do, like being able to adapt on the wall and read the boulders, as well as time management, like managing my attempts.”

Sadie competing at the 2023 Youth Boulder National Championships / Credit: Sherri Schmidt Stutzman

Sadie credits her climbing skills to practice and her previous sports experience in gymnastics. She says, “Similar to gymnastics, [in climbing] I need to understand what and why I need to do something. In gymnastics, you also need to tighten your core, which translates to climbing.” Sadie sticks to a training schedule of two days practising in the gym and off days running to keep up her endurance.  

Although she competes on her own, Sadie enjoys the comradery of the Boiler Room. She says, “I train on my own, but sometimes we have training camp, and I get to train with other athletes. They’ll be climbing next to me and then we get to talk about climbing.” Training with other athletes helps Sadie strategize and learn techniques from other skilled climbers.  

Malek and Sadie at the Boiler Room Climbing Gym / Credit: Tourism Kingston

Her coach, Malek Taleb, supports Sadie on her climbing journey. Malek is the owner of the Boiler Room and Climbing Escalade Canada’s National Team Coach for Boulder and Lead disciplines. Malek identified Sadie as a skilled climber from a young age. “Her spatial awareness is a huge skill that makes her a good climber. I think her body and her movements are more advanced than most. She’s young, but she is very mature and wise. She realizes her end goal and is willing to sacrifice a lot to get to that goal,he says.  

Sadie (right) on the podium after winning bronze at the 2023 Youth Boulder National Championships in Calgary / Credit: Sherri Schmidt Stutzman

Sadie’s journey to IFSC Youth World Championships has required a culmination of hard work and performance at competitions. To qualify, she competed at regional and provincial competitions and the 2023 Youth Boulder National Championships in Calgary. Her efforts resulted in a third-place finish in the bouldering category for Youth B – Female at the 2023 Youth Boulder National Championships. This accomplishment earned her a ticket to the world stage at the IFSC Youth World Championships in South Korea. 

For Sadie, the prospect of competing at the world championships is both exciting and nerve-wracking. She says, “It’s cool [to represent Canada at the World Championships]. I like being able to travel to different places in the world, climb with other people, and see my climbing progress.”  

Malek’s guidance has played a pivotal role in shaping Sadie’s strengths as a climber. His ability to recognize and nurture her skills had set her on the path to climbing excellence. He says, “We identified that she could do this a few years back, so it’s really neat to see it work out. That said, I think she still has a long way to go. But this is the first step, for sure. All signs point to a good result [at the championship]. Not many people get this opportunity. We are happy on our progress so far.”  

As Sadie looks toward the future, her ambitions are as high as the walls she climbs. Best of luck to Sadie as she competes at the IFSC Climbing Youth World Championships from August 19 to 27.