Tiny Iron River Michigan Welcomes Home Olympic Gold Medalist in Big Way
Some things are just worth shutting the town down for, and for the tiny northern Michigan town of Iron River, an Olympic gold medalist is definitely one of them.
Snowboarder Nick Baumgartner of Iron River, population 2,800, returned home after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Baumgartner won gold in mixed snowboardcross event with partner Lindsey Jacobellis. The mixed snowboardcross is an event where snowboarders race through an obstacle course.
Baumgartner, who is 40, attended West Iron County High School and played football at Northern Michigan University, is the oldest snowboarder to ever win a medal at the Olympics securing the gold in the inaugural event for the sport.
Baumgartner was met with a hero's welcome by friends and family when he arrived at a Wisconsin airport. He was greeted by cheers and a special hug from his 17-year-old son, which became an emotional moment, and that was just the beginning of celebrating the Olympic champ.
The small Upper Peninsula town showed up in a big way for a parade to honor Baumgartner on Valentine's Day. West Iron County Schools dismissed early so the whole town could be there to celebrate.
The Olympic Gold Medalist Baumgartner walked the parade along with his dog while being escorted by First Responders. Baumgartner says he spent 17 years chasing a gold medal and proudly shares it with the U.P.
“People are so amazing,” said Baumgartner. “I love that I’m from the Midwest, even more, that I’m from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Yoopers are so awesome. When something’s good, they back you so hard. In this journey, they’ve had my back in everything, and I owe this to every single one of you guys for picking me up and helping me get through that.”
Congratulation Nick Baumgartner! You make all of Michigan proud.