The 2014 Winter games are less than a month away and one of our neighbors in the UP is eyeing his second opportunity to represent the Red, White & Blue. Nick Baumgartner, a boardercross snowboarder from Iron River, Michigan competed in the 2010 games and has also won a gold and a silver in the Winter X Games. Now he’s waiting to hear if he’ll be one of four Americans to compete in Sochi next month.
“It's always a stressful year. In 2010 it was the same thing, but you just go out there and do your best and hope that that's enough,” Baumgartner said.
His stats are certainly there. Baumgartner is ranked 7th overall in World Cup standings, second among Americans.
“I have a good feeling, but you never know. I've been riding good, I think I've been riding better than I have probably in many years I think I'm riding really smart and really aggressive and doing things right.”
Baumgartner's dream was born in 1990 when Santa Claus brought him a snow board for Christmas. Over two decades of experience is key to his success.
“All the things that go on alongside you.. you have to be able to have that going on right alongside you and the board's almost hitting you and still being able to focus, because if you miss your move, it can get really dangerous real fast,” Baumgartner explained.
In 2010, the UP native's goal was to make the Olympic team. Now that he's gotten his feet wet, he has bigger things in mind.
“I want to bring a medal back to the Midwest here, bring it back to Michigan where I'm from and I think it would be a huge thing being I'm from a small town. My ski hill is not a huge mountain. These kids that I compete against come from the biggest mountains in the world and I have a chance to come from this small area and do something cool like that and I think it would just be inspiring to a lot of people.”
Baumgartner enjoys sharing his story, and takes his responsibilities as a role model very seriously. Tuesday morning, the Olympian made visits to several area schools including Bay Harbor Elementary.
“To be able to give back and tell everyone that there's no goal that's too big, because a lot of people always tell you make sure when you make a goal, make it reachable, well if you're willing to put in the hard work, there's no goal that's too big.”