Broken bone doesn’t slow Baumgartner | AspenTimes.com
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Broken bone doesn’t slow Baumgartner

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Snowboarder X rider, Nick Baumgartner reacts to winning the gold medal at the Winter X-Games.
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ASPEN – Nick Baumgartner skidded to a stop at the base of Buttermilk Mountain’s boardercross course, unstrapped his bindings and immediately sought out the most important person in his life.

Only a few moments passed before the 29-year-old, who had just claimed Winter X Games gold, reached over a fence and plucked his 6-year-old son, Landon, from the spectator area.

A long embrace followed, then a TV interview with young Landon perched atop his father’s broad shoulders.

It was a moment father and son won’t soon forget.

Baumgartner not only derailed Nate Holland’s bid for an X Games six-peat in boardercross on Saturday, he had made his boy proud – and he did it all not even two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone at Copper Mountain.

Fifteen screws and a plate – installed during a very recent surgery – did little to slow the 6-foot, 205-pound former football linebacker.

“Today, there was no pain,” Baumgartner, who played his college ball at Northern Michigan University, shared. “There was no pain at all. I mean, I took Tylenol the days before, but today I didn’t take anything. I wanted to have a sharp mind and just keep everything focused.”

If pain had been a factor, it’s safe to assume seeing an overjoyed Landon, who was watching his dad compete for the first time, at the finish would have wiped away any hurt.

“Just to see the look on his face,” Baumgartner said with a wide smile. “Anytime your boy’s proud of you, there’s no better feeling. Winning gold’s good, but seeing him proud is better.”

Baumgartner, who hails from Iron River, Mich., had never placed higher than fifth place in his six previous X Games appearances.

In snapping his personal medal drought, Baumgartner kept Holland from a sixth straight gold medal. The latter’s five consecutive boardercross titles from 2006 to 2010 is the longest streak in a single discipline at the X Games.

The 32-year-old Holland, who lists Squaw Valley, Calif., as his hometown, settled for bronze.

Canadian Kevin Hill, who led a healthy chunk of Saturday’s final until Baumgartner nudged ahead just before the Buttermilk course’s massive closing jump, nabbed silver.

“It’s kind of bittersweet, but I can’t complain,” Holland said. “I had an amazing streak of five in a row and I’m on the podium today and I gave it my all. That’s I can ask from myself.”

As for Hill, silver suited him just fine.

“I was stoked making the final,” said the 24-year-old, who also has experience as a professional BMX rider. “With the podium, finishing second, it’s the highlight of my career so far.”

Hill nearly had gold, his time of 1 minutes, 29.856 seconds in the final putting him just a fraction of a second behind Baumgartner (1:29.7). Holland finished the bank- and roller-laden course in 1:30.026.

After Baumgartner took an early lead, Hill made a midrace push to pull into the lead. Some strategic drafting late gave Baumgartner the edge.

“Draft and he has some good weight on me, for sure,” said Hill, who’s listed at 6-foot and 170 pounds. “That’s how I passed him – drafting. Then he drafted to me. I think weight plays a factor. He got it, which is awesome. I’m just as stoked as if I would have won.”

And he didn’t miss winning it by much.

“All three of us … at the end, in our minds, thought we were going to pull it,” Holland said. “And it was pretty amazing being up in the air on that big kicker with these guys and just flying.

“Good finish, boys.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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