Midwesterners are sending congratulations to Nick Baumgartner, from Michigan’s UP, for making his second Olympic appearance, and 19-year-old Nick Goepper from Indiana for making his first.
Goepper, who grew up skiing at Perfect North Slopes in the Hoosier State, is ranked No. 1 in the world in slopestyle skiing, a new Olympic event. He just cemented his world ranking by winning gold in the X-Games ski slopestyle competition last week; a nice tune-up for the Olympic Games. It’s the second year in a row the young competitor has held the top world ranking, and his second X Games gold.
He started skiing at Perfect North, about 15 minutes from his home, at the age of five. He enrolled at Windells Academy in Oregon for high school, but still calls Indiana home. In a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star he said, “Honestly, I still have more fun skiing there than most places.”
Goepper was always in the terrain park perfecting his tricks and spins, according to Ellen Perfect, who watched him grow up on their slopes.
“The lodge was packed on Sunday with everyone watching and cheering Sunday when Nick won,” she told SnoCountry.com. “All of the young kids here look up to him. He was here a couple of days over the holidays when he was home.”
Look for him to be prominently featured by NBC in their Olympic coverage.
Baumgartner, who often shows up at his home hill Ski Brule, was a coach’s selection for the Sochi Games. He finished fifth in the X Games snowboard cross competition. A top three finish would have automatically qualified him, but he’s won X Games gold in previous years. He is also the only American with three top-10 finishes in World Cup competition this season.
“My goal was to make the team,” Baumgartner said in an interview after placing a call to his son’s elementary school in Iron River, Mich., to tell him the good news. “I was crying, and they were cheering. But, now my goal is winning a medal and bringing it back to him and Michigan.”
Louie Vito, who grew up snowboarding with his father at Mad River Mountain, failed to make this year’s team, but made a statement that he’s not done by taking a silver medal in the X Games snowboard superpipe final. Shaun White recently told Snowboarder Magazine that he’s always considered Vito one of his top competitors. The former Olympian is only 25.
What’s really nice about all three of these athletes is that none of them have forgotten their roots. They annually return to their hometown hills to inspire a whole new generation of young Heartland snowsports enthusiasts.
A couple of other Midwestern riders, who grew up Michigan, have also recently been added to the Sochi Olympic squad; Karly Shoor in slopestyle snowboarding and Danny Davis in snowboard superpipe.
Shoor, appearing in her first Olympics, grew up riding at Boyne Mountain. She burst on the scene in 2012 dominating the Revolution Tour with three wins and was crowned overall champion that season. The Milford, Michigan, native graduated from Milford High School in 2012.
Davis, also a Milford native and high school graduate, will be making his first Olympic appearance in the superpipe snowboarding competition. The 26-year-old had a spot locked up on the 2010 Olympic team, but went out partying after securing the spot and suffered a back injury in an ATV accident requiring a long recovery time. He appears to be back in tip top shape having just won the X Games Snowboard Superpipe gold medal and is ready for Sochi. He grew up riding at nearby Alpine Valley.
Both could medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
Photo: Nick Baumgartner at SBX World Cup in Stoneham, Quebec (Oliver Kraus/FIS)