NIK WALLENDA WALKS ACROSS NIAGARA FALLS
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.