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Defying Death, Usually

The issue with back country skiing, like many extreme sports, is that the bar is never finished being raised. Perform a death-defying stunt with any regularity and you've got to do it one better. "What used to be considered amazing--a cliff drop or steep skiing line to watch on a movie--is now routine," says champion extreme skier Chris Davenport. "You're seeing things people are filming with their P.O.V. cameras and putting it on YouTube."

The result is a sport that has never been more dangerous, even deadly. "Just this season alone, in the last three months, I've lost five friends," Davenport says. An unusually warm winter has created unstable snow, which can result in avalanches. So why do they do it? There are sponsors and fans and internet glory, but ultimately it comes down to one thing: the thrill. "You drop in...you get tunnel vision," says Tanner Hall, a top extreme skier. "Everything's blurred out, except for the line that you studied and you've thought about for however long. And when you're goin' through it, you get to the bottom, you're skiing out, that's all that preparation. That's the million miles an hour. That's the fear. That's everything goin', goin', goin'. You're riding out. And that's what makes you just go... GGGGGGRRRRRR! Cause that's that feeling. Better than winning any gold medals."

Watch the full report on extreme back country skiing, when 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel' returns Tuesday, April 17th at 10 PM.

Ep 181 extreme skiing

181: April 17, 2012

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