Inside the mind of an extreme sport athlete

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There's a fine line between sports and extreme sports, as not every athlete is willing to take the big risks which come with these potentially deadly stunts. Know More about the mindset of these extreme sport athletes.

For many of us, the idea of jumping off a cliff or flipping on a motocross bike is too much. The average person may fear for their life in such a moment, but KKCO 11 News spoke to a local extreme sport athlete who says flying down a mountain on his bike is when he feels most relaxed.

Flying really isn't his thing, that is, unless it's flying down the mountain, twisting, flipping and reaching top speeds.

"The biggest fear I have is when I’m actually flying to events," professional mountain biker Nick Simcik said. "[Extreme mountain biking gives me] this feeling of freedom because you feel like you're doing exactly what you're meant to do."

For many, it's a risk they wouldn't even consider, but for athletes like Nick Simcik, it's the risk factor that puts the extreme in extreme sports.

"Risks are part of every day life," he said. "We're just continuing to do what we love and so it doesn't feel like an unnecessary risk."

Unnecessary or not, there's no question these risks cause crashes, and sports medicine doctor Richard Price says injuries to these athletes are more than your simple sprains.

"Broken necks, backs, broken knees. When these guys get injured they get devastated," he said.

Like all athletes, exercise creates endorphins making us feel happy, but Dr. Price says the endorphins and adrenaline for extreme athletes can be addicting, creating rushes that can even help the most injured athletes walk away.

“Just these extraordinary acts that again, we really can't explain, but it has to do with the adrenaline and energy of the situation," Dr. Price said.

Simcik realizes he's taking a risk every time he hits a jump, one that could even claim his life.

"I’d rather die doing exactly what I love," he said.

"[Extreme sport athletes are] right on that line between success and death unfortunately," Dr. Price added.

For him, extreme sports are more of a mental game, and that's what he lives for.

"There certainly is that element of potential danger and injury and potentially worse, but that's kind of why we do it, is the thrill of it," Simcik said.

Dr. Price predicts we will see more extreme sport injuries in the future because he believes these athletes will continue to push the envelope to see just how far they can go. He also said the proper gear in these extreme sports can help, but as shown in the tragic accident with Caleb Moore, equipment can't always save lives.

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