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THE PLACE: La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Vara Blanca, Costa Rica

THE ATHLETE: Pat Keller, 19, of Asheville, N.C.

THE SPORT: Whitewater kayaking

THE DEAL: "It's in the rain forest, and a little creek has carved these five waterfalls out of a gorge. The cool thing is that right above the big 82-foot drop (pictured) is a 49-foot drop, and once you run the 49-footer there's no way down but to run the big one. When you land in the pool between the two, you just catch your breath and then head for the edge of the next drop. I got a little twisted on the way down, and when I hit the bottom, the left side of my paddle caught the water. It flew back, and my hand got caught between the paddle and my helmet. It broke the paddle and it broke my hand. It was worth it."


Photograph by LUCAS J. GILMAN