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Tight-rope Walker Nik Wallenda Breaks 2 World Records in Chicago

  • Reuters

Nik Wallenda broke two world records on Sunday with back-to-back high-wire walks between Chicago skyscrapers without a net or harness, doing the second walk blindfolded.

"I feel incredible," Wallenda said at a news conference Sunday night after the walk, The Associated Press reported.

To the cheers of a crowd of tens of thousands on streets below, Wallenda spoke cheerfully of the view as he walked the wire over the Chicago River. As he approached the end of the first walk he said, “God is in control.”

For the first walk on a steel wire, the 35-year-old Wallenda went more than two city blocks uphill, rising at a 19-degree angle, from the west tower of the Marina City towers to the Leo Burnett Building more than 50 stories above the Chicago River.

"That cable looked like it was going straight up," he said, according to the AP.

It was the highest skyscraper walk in the history of the “Flying Wallenda” family of acrobats, and the first time Wallenda attempted a walk at such a steep angle.

The walk broke the world record for an incline high-wire walk, according to a representative from Guinness World Records interviewed on Discovery Channel which broadcast the event.

For the second part of the walk, Wallenda walked blindfolded from Marina City's west tower to the east tower, breaking the world record for the highest blindfolded high-wire walk.

Wire was shaking

Wallenda said in an interview on Discovery afterward that the wire was shaking when he walked blindfolded.

“You probably saw me shaking like a leaf, this wire was shaking underneath me and you know I just wanted to make to the other side I wasn't gonna think twice, I was getting on the wire and I am going,” Wallenda said.

Wallenda has also previously walked over the brink of Niagara Falls in 2012 and across the Little Colorado River Gorge in 2013.

The first skyscraper walk, which took Wallenda about 6.5 minutes, was 454 feet long (138 meters), rising to 671 feet (206 meters); the second was 94 feet long (29 meters), at a height of 543 feet (166 meters). He completed that walk in less than a minute.

A year before Wallenda's birth, his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell to his death at age 73 from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.

What's next? Wallenda has said he next wants to re-create a 1,200-foot-long (365-meter) high-wire walk made famous by his great-grandfather. The stunt in Georgia included two headstands on the high wire.

"I've trained a bit to do a headstand on the wire, but I've never done it publicly because I've always said if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it on that walk with him," Wallenda said, explaining that he wants to use vintage film of Karl Wallenda's walk to create the illusion of the two of them sharing the high wire.

Some material for this report came from Associated Press.

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