IRON RIVER, Mich. - In Iron River you’ll have no problem finding that small town vibe. The self proclaimed Yoopers give off this subtle charm that’s hard to put your finger on.
“When I tell people where I’m from and that I’m a Yooper, they always ask me what is a Yooper and it’s hard for me to explain,” said Nick Baumgartner, Olympian.
Baumgartner is perhaps the most known Yooper in this year’s Olympics. This will be his third time competing on the global stage of the Winter Olympics in snow board cross.
“Six of us start at the top. First one to the bottom wins. And from the start to the bottom a lot of crazy things happen,” said Baumgartner.
But what’s crazier than a 36 year old Yooper making yet another trip to compete with the best in the world?
“With my experience I like my odds I like my odds against those younger kids,” said Baumgartner.
Every Olympian has to start somewhere though.
Turns out Baumgartner’s journey to the biggest of stages began by getting kicked off of hills.
“My boys were really good at not following the rules and they all snowboarded and got their passes taken away from them but Nick ended up being really good at it,” said Mary Baumgartner, Nick’s mom.
Mary Baumgartner says Nick’s competitive drive was even there as a kid and over the last 15 years he’s brought that matured passion to both Russia and Canada’s Olympic Games.
“You’re standing there with all those other parents at the bottom of the hill waiting for them and we’re all holding hands and were all you know who’s going to come over that last jump,” said Nick Baumgartner.
As Nick and his family prepare for one more shot at a medal they will lean on their community which continues to give the inspiration that the small town kid has come to rely on.