Nick Baumgartner

Making the Olympic Team

The selection process for the US Olympic Snowboardcross Team is pretty simple. I had to have one of the top four results in the five Snowboard World Cup events leading into the Olympic Games. The five events leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Argentina, Telluride, Bad Gastien Austria, Veysonaz Switzerland, and Stoneham Quebec.

Through the first four events I had taken a third place podium in Veysonaz Switzerland. The final event was in Stoneham Quebec. In the first heat of the weekend I was taken out by a Canadian rider that hooked an edge out of the gate and crossed over into my line and took out my board. If I was going to be on the Olympic team my third place podium was going to have to be one of the top four results of the five events for the US Team.

There were still a few other guys from the US Team that had to ride yet. All I could do was sit and wait to see how they finished. I have a great relationship with both of the guys that could bump me from my spot so it was hard for me to watch because I was pulling for them, we’re a pretty tight team.

Ross Powers was racing in the next heat. (The first time I raced a Snowboardercross race I rode a Ross Powers Pro Model Pipe Board). Ross had a third place already as well but needed to finish seventh or better to bump me from my spot. Ross made it to the small finals and finished eighth. My Olympic dream was still alive.

Shaun Palmer was now the only member of the US Team that could bump me from my spot. Palmer had to get a second place finish to take my spot. I sat at the bottom of the hill sick to my stomach with no way to do anything but watch and wait. The eight minutes of that race I felt more emotion and pressure then I ever had in my life. My family had already booked their flights and accommodations for Vancouver. It was nice to know that my family had that much confidence in me. So as Palmer came down the hill I just sweated it out. Palmer raced strong but when he crossed the finish line he was in third place.

As Palmer came across the finish line I sat at the bottom of the hill a member of the US Olympic Team. It was bittersweet because I had beat out two of my idols in my sport and fellow team members. In that moment when he crossed the finish line I realized a dream and I will never forget that split second of my life.

The official call to inform me that I was on the US Olympic Team didn’t come until two weeks before the start of the games. When I answered that call it was official. I was an Olympian.