IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - On Wednesday night, TV6 visited the custom training track Olympian Nick Baumgartner built around his Iron River home. In part two of this special report, Baumgartner gave TV6's Sophie Erber her first snowboarding lesson at Ski Brule and below is the transcript:
(Baumgartner trying to teach Sophie how to stop while snowboarding)
Sophie: "I stopped!"
Nick: "No lean back, lean back! Cause when you're going, you want to completely stop. Cause if you stop and celebrate, you hit the edge, you go that way. Now we got one, we're gonna give her one good one ... however many that good one takes!"
And ... it took quite a few.
But let's back up. (video goes in reverse up the hill).
I learned many things that snowy day on the bunny hill at Ski Brule. But lesson number one, don't be afraid to fall. But also when you fall, make sure it's backwards and not forwards … or I was warned, I could easily end up with a broken wrist.
And again …
Nick: "Go up on your toes, just a little bit. Then jump off of that and turn it 90 degrees. Get a little bit of heel edge. Finish it … yeah!"
Sophie successfully stops
Then in this case, you lean back …"
Not what he meant, as Sophie continued sliding down the hill.
Nick: "Ooh, that's alright."
Sophie: "Lean back again?"
Nick: "Look at that!" (Sophie spins around and catches the tow rope)
Doug, TV6 photographer: "That was pretty good!"
"Wahoo, right to the rope!"
Sophie: "I feel like the natural thing is to get nervous that you're *not* turning, so you lean back and away …"
Nick: "No it'll happen. As long as you put a little bit of pressure, you'll slowly start to head towards that rope. And once you turn sideways, you've got to commit to it!"
Commit to stopping he means. Which apparently, is a common rookie mistake. Another hard thing to get my body used to … standing on the board with equal weight on both feet. After all, when you're headed down an icy hill, it felt more natural, at least for me, to lean back and away towards the top of the hill. Nick says, once you overcome that impulse it gets easier and you can progress to harder skills, skills for Nick, that progressed into his love for 'boardercross'.
"Now I have to train a lot more, because I'm older," says Baumgartner. "My body needs way more work to stay at this level. Now when I look back at the beginning I'm like, imagine how good I would've been if I had trained like I do now back then! But you can get away with a little bit more [when you're younger]. But now it's cool, because I'm at the point where I have to give it everything that I have. It's fun pushing my body, and seeing what I can get out of my body, even at 38."
Baumgartner says, the 2022 is the end of his Olympic journey.
"That's the plan ... that's why I'm putting in all this work, because this is my last chance," says Baumgartner. "There's not a what-if, you'll go to another one ... at 40 years old, I think my body will have given about as much as it can into this sport, and it'll be time to hang it up and focus on enjoying life, and my life after sport."
A sport he says, should stay exactly the way it is, even amid recent concerns about concussions and injuries.
"And now they're saying our sport's dangerous, 'we don't want it to be dangerous'. Well, there's a reason our sport is cool ... it's because it's dangerous. When you take an extreme sport and you try to make it safe, I think you're ruining it."
Baumgartner says he hopes he makes Upper Michigan proud. Especially since his career started on the slopes of Ski Brule.
"And I do it out at Ski Brule and people say, 'well how do you go from Ski Brule to the 14,000 feet in Switzerland'? And it's because I had a place to gain a passion for something. And once I was passionate about it, there was no shutting it off."
As for me, I don't think a professional snowboarding career is in the books. But what I did learn from the sport is … that knowing the right way to fall means, you will be able to get back up and try again.
Baumgartner says, if he makes the Olympic team again, he's making sure his son Landon is there to watch him compete in Beijing.