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      Olympian Nick Baumgartner hopes to inspire youth

      When you watch the Sochi Winter Olympics in a few weeks, there's a fairly good chance you're going to spot Iron River native Nick Baumgartner out on the Russian slopes.

      â??I always wanted to make the Olympics, but I didn't know what sport was going to get me there,â?? said Baumgartner.

      Long story short, Nick quickly found out he got along pretty well with his snowboard. It helped him get to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and also win the 2011 X-Games. Now he's looking to Sochi, but he's got to qualify through competitions first to make the Olympic team.

      â??For me there are three events left. Weâ??ve already done two,â?? Baumgartner said. â??The first one, I had a crash.â??

      It was at a competition in Montafon, Austria, and it left him with a concussion and an airlift off the mountain in a helicopter. And while it would make sense that a crash like that would mean, 'Better luck next time, Nick,â?? it didn't. He continued competing, and he's now sitting number two on the team, which according to him sounds like he's heading to Russia.

      â??Now this time my goal isn't to make the Olympics; it's going to take a lot to keep me away from making that Olympic team. My goal is to go there and bring a medal back to Michigan,â?? Baumgartner said.

      Nick said his journey has brought him to places he thought he'd never go and has led him now to become a source of inspiration to youth, including his son, Landon, and others in the community.

      â??There are kids here getting ready for football, doing their conditioning, and I go and work with them, and for them it's awesome to work with an Olympic athlete.â??

      He said opportunities were never simply handed to him; it took hard work to reach his goal of winning the X-Games and making it to the Olympics. He said in the past he received some criticism with what seems like unattainable goals, but Nick said all the goals heâ??s made so far, heâ??s reached. He hopes to be able to travel to schools and speak with children about working hard to accomplish goals. Itâ??s something that hits close to home with Nick, and itâ??s what heâ??s hoping he can share with others.

      â??Dreaming big is my philosophy. If you're not happy with what you're doing, you have to do something about it, and you have to work hard for it,â?? Baumgartner said.

      And Nick is a living testament to that philosophy of ambition and hard work; a philosophy which could follow him to Sochi, Russia.