Iron River's Baumgartner poised for Olympic gold in Pyeongchang
IRON RIVER, Mich. - "I'm going to do it for the third time and it's hard to believe," Olympic snowboarder Nick Baumgartner said. "Someone pinch me man."
Just days before Nick Baumgartner heads to the noise and expectations of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Iron River native is back where it all began.
"Who would have thought when I was 15-years old and breaking rules, a camera crew would come and see me," Bumgartner said.
Following his recent professional tour, the hometown hero returned to his local slope, Ski Brule as well as attended several local high schools to share in the upcoming experience.
"That's the kind of support the other guys don't have," Bumgartner said. "So I'm taking all the support from the Northwoods and Upper Peninsula and I'm taking that with me to Pyeongchang. Whenever I'm feeling down, I don't have to look any further than the support system I have here."
Never afraid to go toe-to-toe with the world's premiere athletes, the small-town star has shined on the biggest of stages.
The snowboard cross competitor riding in the sports' premiere tournaments such as the X-Games, FIS World Cup and now a third straight Winter Olympic games.
"If you would have told me when I started back here at Ski Brule when I was 15-years old that I'd go to two Olympics, I wouldn't have believed you, it's hard to grasp," Baumgartner said. "It's so awesome when you put in hard work, even from a small town that doesn't matter, as long as you put in the work it's possible."
At 36-years old, Bumgartner is far from the youngest Olympic competitor, but he might just be the most confident.
"I'm going there to win a medal and bring it back," Baumgartner said. "I went through all the preparation of going through the Olympics, seeing what it feels like. Now it's game time, I'm 36, I have something to prove. We're going to do it in Pyeongchang."
A local hero ready for another chance to test his mettle, and hopefully pick up his first in the process.
"This place would go absolutely crazy and I can't wait to see that because I'm holding a gold medal," Baumgartner said.