Oldest member of US Olympic team is a Michigan snowboarder who has unfinished business at Winter Games

‘It’s funny, there’s one kid on our team that is three days younger than my son’

Eight days and counting until the Winter Olympics and one Michigan man proves that chasing your dreams is not just a young person's sport.

DETROITNick Baumgartner is from Iron River, which is way up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

His sport is snowboard cross, and this Olympics is his fourth. He will be the oldest member of Team U.S.A. in Beijing as he turned 40 years old last month.

Some people love what they do. Baumgartner lives for it.

“I like to play and have fun, and it’s that famous quote from George Bernard Shaw that stuck with me for so long when he said, ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing,’” Baumgartner said.

This explains how at age 40 he is still one of the best in the world in a younger man’s sport.

“It’s funny, there’s one kid on our team that is three days younger than my son,” Baumgartner said.

It’s not all fun and games for Baumgartner. He endures rigorous training in season and out.

“You only get so much time in your athletic career to compete at this level,” Baumgartner said. “For me, it becomes a thing of ‘How far can I push this? How far can I go?’ Every year I do more and more work, including this year which is the most I’ve ever done.”

Nick finished fourth in Pyeongchang, missing out on his first Olympic medal. The last thing he 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 going to happen.

“Fourth place was close, as close as you could possibly get,” Baumgartner said. “I want one of those medals. It’s the one thing missing. It’s not necessary as my career has been awesome, but I put this work in for a reason. It wasn’t just to make an Olympics. It’s to go there, make some noise and go out swinging.”

Baumgartner is not the only Michigan native competing in snowboarding at the Winter Olympics. Zoe Kalapos of Beverly Hills also made the team and will compete in the women’s halfpipe. It’s the 24-year old’s first Olympics.

Remember the Winter Olympics get started next Thursday, Feb. 3, and you can catch all the action on Local 4.


More: Here are the athletes with Michigan ties competing at 2022 Winter Olympics


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.