GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When Nick Baumgartner steps up to the start line in the men’s snowboard cross competition, he’ll have lots of experience on his side.
Beijing will be the fourth Olympics for the native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While some people love what they do, Baumgartner lives for it.
“I like to play and have fun. There’s a famous quote from George Bernard Shaw that stuck with me for so long,” he said. “‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.'”
It explains how, at age 40, Baumgartner is still one of the best in the world at a younger man’s sport.
“It’s funny, there’s one kid on our team who is three days younger than my son, which is crazy when you think of it,” he said.
It’s not all play for Baumgartner. He endures a rigorous training program in season and out.
“You only get so much time in your athletic career to be able to compete at this level. For me, it’s starting to become this thing, like, how far can I push this? How far can you go?” he said. “Every year, I do more and more work. This year being the most that I’ve done.”
The last thing Baumgartner wants to do is look back years from now and wonder if he did enough. But with four Olympics on his resume, that’s not likely to happen. In the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics he finished fourth, meaning he just barely missed out on winning a medal.
“Fourth place was close, as close as you can possibly get. I want one of those medals. It’s the one thing missing. It’s not necessary,” said Baumgartner. “My career has been awesome, but I put this work in for a reason. It wasn’t just to go to an Olympics; it was to go there and make some noise and go out swinging.”