The King of the High Wire stunned a Calgary Stampede crowd Monday night as he broke the world record for the longest urban high-wire walk.
Passing over midway rides and food trucks, Nik Wallenda walked on a wire 35 metres in the air with effortless grace. He stopped a few times along the 549-metre walk to wave to the crowd below, kneel down and, at one point, he was daring enough to do a pushup.
“In conditions like that, I want to get back up there and entertain,” Wallenda said after the walk. “People don’t understand why I do it but I don’t understand why I wouldn’t because to me, it’s life. My great-grandfather said, ‘Life is on the wire and everything else is just waiting.’ That’s true.”
During Wallenda’s time performing another act at the Stampede over the weekend, the wind had been unpredictable which made him nervous leading up to the walk. But, it wasn’t the breeze that concerned him Monday.
While he was in the air, he requested his team on the ground make a few adjustments regarding the volunteers who were holding cords that were stabilizing the wire.
“It was a lot of fun. I was concerned in the beginning because as I walked out…there were some stabilizers that weren’t in proper places. They weren’t far enough out, so I knew the stabilization was off and the spacing was off,” said Wallenda.
Wallenda also had some complications resulting from his tether, which he was required to wear because of the audience below. If he fell, the tether would have caught him, preventing him from hurting anyone in the crowd.
He was concerned, however, that the stabilizer cords would catch his tether, ripping him down onto his back, which would have been difficult to recover from.
“In the middle, I took it off once and the audience went crazy…I put it back on and about 30 or 45 feet (from) the end, I took it off and ran,” said Wallenda.
Preparing for the flashing lights of the midway below was easy for Wallenda; he completed a jaw-dropping night-time walk across New York City’s Times Square at the end of June.
Immediately following the Calgary walk, Wallenda was presented with a gold and silver Stampede belt buckle for breaking the world record at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“I’ve just been blessed with opportunity and I love doing crazy things, so with that comes world records,” he said.
Most of Wallenda’s family was present to watch the walk. This will be the last high-wire walk that one of Wallenda’s son helps rig for a while, as he starts training with the American military this week and will be there for at least six years.
When Wallenda is done performing at the Stampede, he’s going to begin researching his next walk in March, in which he intends to perform over an active volcano.
“I know where, but I can’t tell you,” he added.
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