Nick Baumgartner is one of our favorite Olympians. He is the oldest snowboarder to ever make the Olympics and the oldest U.S. Olympian in these games.
At 40-years-old, he's the fourth oldest overall competing in Beijing. He is a four-time Olympic snowboarder and X-Games gold medalist.
Baumgartner finished so close to a medal in PyeongChang four years ago after finishing fourth. If he stays healthy, a fifth appearance in the Olympics at age 44 is not out of the question.
"Definitely an honor, for sure," Baumgartner says. "It's very cool that I've been able to keep my body healthy and strong enough to be able to keep myself relevant in a sport that's dominated by youth."
The Iron River, Michigan native had big dreams as a kid.
"Before I found snowboarding, I think the NFL was my goal," Baumgartner says. "As every young football player, that's what the goal was. I shot high always. I did every sport. I followed my older brothers into every sport and we were just a family full of jocks."
And then at age 15, he got hooked on snowboarding at Ski Brule and did a report on it.
"My teacher actually took me out in the hallway," Baumgartner says. "And was like, that's cool but don't you think we should pick something a little more realistic? I talked her into it and now we get a laugh out of it from time to time thinking about that."
Starting late in life, Baumgartner has made up for it by living life with little regret. He has been commuting to Marquette, Michigan last year for training sessions and sleeping in his van. All to live the Olympic dream.
"That first one, when you walk out into Opening Ceremonies, it will change your life forever," Baumgartner says. "It completely changed me. I'm more emotional. If there's a movie where you're trying to hold in a tear, doesn't happen. I cry."
He also built a custom snowboard area in his backyard. No lie.
"Not my backyard. My front, side, back and side," Baumgartner says. "So I built this training track a couple years ago and it just, it helps me. It's not super realistic in the shape of the rollers, and anything like what I would see on a race track. But what it does, is it allows me to completely burn my legs out, which is huge."
It's all to achieve Olympic glory, like his X Games golden memory with son Landon 11 years ago.
"I was able to win and hold my 6-year-old son up on national television and send him back to school a rock star because of something that I did," Baumgartner says. "And to me? That's the highlight. When I tell people winning the X Games is the best day of my life, they question, 'well you're a dad aren't you?' And I said well, it was because of him being there and the whole experience of sharing it with him."
And now it's off to show what the Northwoods can do, all the way around the world.
"I know as athletes in the U.P., you get sick of hearing, wow you're really good for the U.P," Baumgartner says. "Watch out world, the U.P.'s coming to China!"