Utah Stories

Sami Singleton—One of the Nation’s First Climbing Olympians?

As rock climbing makes its Olympic debut in 2020 Sami Singleton is training now to be part of the team.


With world-class climber Alex Puccio (right) as head coach, there is a good chance Utah local, Sami Singleton, has a good chance to compete in the 2020 Olympics, when rock climbing makes its debut on the Olympic stage. Photo Courtesy of Momentum

Rock climbing will be making its Olympic debut in 2020, leaving many younger climbers across the nation vying for a spot on the team. Among them is Utah’s own Sami Singleton—an up-and-coming athlete worth watching.

Utah’s Rocky Mountains offer some of the best in the world for rock climbers. But oftentimes, the mountainous state often produces its own star climbers. Starting at just the age of nine, Sami Singleton’s climbing career has accelerated on a national level.

The daughter of two former climbers, Sami first enrolled in a summer day camp at Momentum Indoor Climbing gym. Prior to that, she had been a gymnast and soccer player, but as soon as her hands gripped the holds, she was hooked.

“Obviously, climbing is a boundary you play with selfishness,” Sami admits. “You climb with your goals. It’s all individual. But, as with any sport and community, Momentum is my team.”

Momentum Indoor Climbing opened 10 years ago in Sandy, in the parking lot of the South Town Mall. A “walltopia” gym, Momentum has seen a surge in the sport’s popularly over the last decade. It’s where many of the sport’s top climbers train.

“We come together and we spot each other and coach each other,” Sami continues. “In competitions, there are also team scores, but you get scored individually. You make a lot of great friends and go on volunteer trips together. We travel as a team.”

In the sport of climbing, there are two distinct seasons: bouldering (no ropes) and sport (using ropes). Men and women are scored against their own sex. At the national competitions, athletes get their own scores that also compile into a team score. Both are rewarded.

Sami, a West High student, trains four to five days a week, each session lasting three hours. She maintains that, although her schedule is demanding, athletics have taught her life skills such as time management, teamsmanship, and performance under pressure.

The pressure has paid off. Sami is now already a member of the elite-level teams, placing second in the nation in sport and sixth in bouldering. In the past two years, her career has taken off. This year, she won the National Championship and competed at the world competition.

Her coach of six years, Palmer Larsen, couldn’t be prouder. In February, Sami will compete in her first adult Nationals in Salt Lake City. “Sami has stellar dedication and her level of focus is great. She’s a straight-A student and gifted athlete,” Palmer says.

With climbing now going to be an Olympic sport, Sami is dedicating part of her training to qualify for the US team. “It’s only going to be one male and one female from each country that can compete,” says Palmer. “But Sami’s age group is going to be the first to compete.”

Sami insists that she has plenty of work to do. “I’m going to work on my speed and my bouldering,” she says, as the US athletes will be required to have cross-trained in both bouldering and sport—creating some controversy amongst the climbing community. “It’s a challenge to fit everything in, but since climbing helps me manage my time, it’s not impossible,” she says. “It’s just me and the wall.”

Momentum currently has three locations in Utah. Visit their website  for more information about separate locations and hours of operation.


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