Daredevil walks on wire between two skyscrapers
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Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world Sunday. He made two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on high wires. He did not use a safety net or a harness. He even performed one crossing blindfolded.
"I feel incredible," Wallenda told reporters after completing the tightrope walks.
He said strong winds and the steeper-than-expected angle of the first high wire caused him to hurry his performance. Wallenda had practiced at a 15-degree angle. He said the wire was actually at 19 degrees.
"That cable looked like it was going straight up," he said.
Cheering fans packed the streets around the city's Marina City towers. They watched the 35-year-old heir to the Flying Wallendas' family business complete the back-to-back walks.
"I love Chicago and Chicago definitely loves me," said Wallenda as he walked the wire. "What an amazing roar!"
Wearing a bright red jacket, Wallenda tested the tension of the first wire. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the 454 foot stretch. It went from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of the river. The tightrope began at 588 feet from the ground and ended at 671 feet.
He took the next stage of the high-wire event blindfolded. It was a 94-foot walk 543 feet from the ground between the two Marina City towers. At a fast clip, he made the stretch in little more than a minute.
As he stepped from the wire, he tore off his blindfold. He waved and the crowd erupted in cheers.
The event was televised by the Discovery Channel. Chicago city officials ignored a state law requiring safety nets for aerial acts higher than 20 feet. Officials said the law wasn't intended for "elite" performers.
Just minutes before the start of his high-wire feat, Wallenda, who lives in Florida, said the chilly conditions in Chicago would not stall him.
"Yes there's some wind, yes it's cool. But it's not unbearable," he said. Just two days earlier, the city had been beset with winds, snow, hail and driving rain.
What's next? Wallenda has said he wants to recreate a 1,200-foot-long high-wire walk made famous by Karl Wallenda. That's Nik's great-grandfather. That stunt came at Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia. It even included two headstands on the high wire.