‘Elderly’ Michigan Snowboarder Makes Me Love The Olympics Again
Nick Baumgartner is only 40, but that's considered ancient in the youthful snowboarding field at the Winter Games. But that's exactly why I love him.
Nick, who learned to snowboard in the UP village of Iron River, won gold over the weekend in the mixed doubles snowboard cross finals at the Beijing Winter Games. He's one of the oldest Olympians ever to strike gold.
But it's his ability to persevere that won him over to many fans.
Baumgartner, by far the oldest snowboarder in the Games, was beside himself last week after just missing out on the medals in his premiere event, the men's solo snowboard cross.
“I don’t think people know how much we put into this. I put so much time and effort, and then one little mistake, and it’s gone. I’m 40 years old. I mean, I’m running out of chances," Baumgartner tearfully told the press following his loss.
He talked of quitting and talked of how he let his son down. It was pure humanity on display.
That's why it was so gratifying to see Baumgartner nail his run Saturday in the mixed doubles event. And then to see him cheer on his teammate, the equally ancient Lindsey Jacobellis (36 years old) as she clinched the top spot on the podium for the pair.
To say Baumgardner has been reflecting on his age recently is an understatement.
“I think for any athlete, getting pushed out by the younger generation is a feeling that really sucks,” Baumgartner told the Team USA web site. “So for us to go out there and put our stamp of approval on it [is amazing and says] that we’re not done yet. We just got to work a little bit harder, and we’re willing to put that work in. So, it’s a good feeling.”
"That's why when you have that adversity, you can't quit. You keep going because the good things are coming."
And isn't that why we watch the Olympics to see guys like Nick battle back and receive redemption?
By the way, he clearly DIDN'T disappoint his son. In fact, he says the gold doesn't even come close to what being a dad means, as he told NBC:
"This gold medal is awesome, but my son's [Landon] still the best thing that I've ever done and ever will do. For him to see me fight through that adversity and do stuff right before he's about to graduate high school and go on to figure out what he's going to do in life, is huge."
Congrats, Nick, for restoring my faith in the Olympics!
Iron River's Nick Baumgartner Wins Mixed Snowcross Gold At Winter Olympics