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People Put Their Lives On The Line In The Name Of Extreme Sports

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FRANKLIN COUNTY — They fly through the air, stare death in the face and risk serious injury everyday. They admit they get high on danger that they cannot get enough of it. However, people who do extreme sports are not as rare as you think. Some extremists may even be your friends and neighbors.

Thirty-year-old Georgie Gelardi is a freestyle skydiver who has been out in the wild blue yonder more than 1,200 times. She trains with her husband, Michael, who captures her acrobatic mid-air maneuvers on videotape for judges during competitions.

"There's no doubt that we're adrenaline junkies. The more you do it and the more you accomplish with each skydive, the greater a feeling you get," Gelardi says. "It does things to your confidence level which create almost a new person."

People who do extreme sports say they do it for the rush -- a rush they cannot get anywhere else.

Chris Doyle, 19, is a professional BMX bike rider from Raleigh. He competes in contests across the country.

"I never thought I could make a living off doing something that I love to do. Each day, it still amazes me," he says.

Doyle admits that that each time he competes, he risks his life.

"When you're in the air and you make a mistake, and you know you're going to go down, you have a split second to think, 'I'm going down now,'" he says. "That's probably the scariest part."

However, fear and a long list of injuries cannot keep Doyle away from the sport he loves.

"Anytime you can go in the air, flip your bike around, pull it clean, there's nothing better than that," he says. "It's hard to explain. It's kind of a feeling."

Matt Lagas-Rivera, 25, loves kayaking the entire North Carolina coastline. He says he braved big waves, storms and exhaustion to make the 330-mile trip in just 5 weeks.

"I'd like to think of it as an explorers' gene. There's something that makes us want to go out and see more of the world," he says. "I was very, very excited that I had finished it, that I had been able to fight all the way through.

"There were times when I wanted to stop or call it quits, but it was really a great sense of accomplishment to finish," he says.

For extreme athletes, that sense of accomplishment can last a lifetime. What did you think about this story?Send us feedback.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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