The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - MASSIMO COMMANDUCCI

When aeri­al­ist Nik Wallenda set out to cross Niagara Falls on a 550-me­tre tightrope just five-cen­time­tres wide, he had to con­tend with the fact that wa­ter­falls are all about head­ing down – a heavy psy­cho­log­i­cal bur­den for a per­former whose fo­cus is de­fy­ing grav­ity. The down­ward mo­men­tum of the nat­u­ral won­der strad­dling the bor­der be­tween Canada and the United States comes at the rate of 2,400 cu­bic me­tres per sec­ond. As the wa­ter crashes more than 50 me­tres below, it kicks up a blan­ket­ing spray – an­other dis­trac­tion that a high-wire artist is un­likely to en­counter un­der a cir­cus tent. Still, shortly af­ter 10 p.m., the sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of the Fly­ing Wal­len­das – many of whom have died while per­form­ing – be­gan his metic­u­lous dance over the roar below. He would have pre­ferred cross­ing with­out a safety har­ness, but the per­for­mance was be­ing broad­cast live on ABC (and in 1978, the death of Nik’s great grand­fa­ther Karl Wallenda had been broad­cast live when he slipped off the high wire). When Nik ar­rived on the Cana­dian side, about 25 min­utes later, cus­toms agents checked his pass­port and took his state­ment. “I’m not car­ry­ing any­thing over, I prom­ise,” he said.


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