Baumgartner in the starting gate wearing his trademark houndstooth pants. (Nick Baumgartner/Facebook)
Nick Baumgartner, who lives in Iron River in the Wolverine State’s UP and calls Ski Brule his “home hill,” got word last week that he has been named to the U.S. Olympic snowboardcross team. He also competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
He’s won gold and silver in the Winter X Games, won World Cup and World Championships. Baumgartner most recently had a podium finish at the Olympic test event in South Korea for the snowboardcross competition and placed fourth in an event in Turkey.
The 36-year-old is recovering from a racing injury in December, but says that won’t hold him back at all. He broke his collarbone in 2011, just 12 days before the X Games and went on to win the snowboardcross gold medal.
He’s still chasing that Olympic medal. In his first two attempts he failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
“I wish I could explain to everyone in words what it’s like to walk out in the opening ceremonies wearing your colors. It’s unbelievable,” he told the Mining Journal. “I am extremely proud to represent the Red, White and Blue in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea.”
Baumgartner has always called Michigan’s UP home and honed his early skills at Ski Brule. He still shows up for events and just to stop by. He stays in close touch with the community.
After making the Olympic team in 2014 as a coach’s pick he excused himself momentarily to first call his son with the news. He said in an interview after placing the call to his son’s elementary school in Iron River, “I was crying, and they were cheering. But, now my goal is winning a medal and bringing it back to him and Michigan.”
He still has the same fire and desire. A true “Yooper,” which is a proud idiom for those that call Michigan’s Upper Peninsula home.