Just a few days after a emotional interview where he admitted he was “missing opportunities”, 40-year-old snowboarder Nick Baumgartner has his first Olympic medal, and it happens to be gold.
After failing to medal in the men’s event on Thursday, Baumgartner teamed up with Lindsey Jacobellis on Saturday to win the Olympic mixed team snowboard cross debut in a thrilling race to the finish against Italy.
Baumgartner cruised through his semi-final to finish first, but the hardest part was yet to come. The Michigan native, who said he worked in construction in the offseason, had to wait at the bottom of the hill to see if the lead he gave Jacobellis was enough for the gold.
What followed was a suspenseful wait followed by a heartwarming celebration just two days after he said, “I’m not stopping on this. I have to do something better to finish.
On Thursday, it looked like Baumgartner was going to play his fourth Olympics without a medal. Immediately after the men’s quarter-finals, Baumgartner looked distraught as he fought back tears on national television.
“I don’t think people know how much you put into it,” Baumgartner told the NBC show. “I put in so much time and effort, then one small mistake and it was gone.
“I am 40 years old, I lack opportunities. I got so much support at home and I feel like I let them down. This one stinks. This one hurts.“
But after a turbulent Saturday for American snowboarding that includes allegations of misconduct against a coach, Baumgartner will return home as the oldest snowboarder to win a Winter Games medal.
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