Daredevil to Set New Tightrope World Record

Daredevil Nik Wallenda will make history by crossing an Arizona gorge more than 1,000 feet in the air.

(Chris O'Meara/AP)

Wallenda already holds several world records, including the longest walk over a waterfall, which he achieved last year.

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Record-breaking daredevil Nik Wallenda is hoping to again make history as he attempts to become the first man to walk across the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon. On a tightrope, that is.

Wallenda, 34, will tread one-third of a mile across a steel cable suspended 1,500 feet in the air on Sunday, and will do so without a safety net or harness. Last year, he was the first person to walk across Niagara Falls, while suspended 220 feet off the ground.

"I'm confident in my ability," Wallenda told the Agence France-Presse. "But the mental part is where I have to be very, very cautious. It's very challenging leading up to an event like this, it's a worldwide event ... that really plays a role on me mentally."

Wallenda, a seventh-generation high-wire artist and a member of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family, began wire walking at the age of 2 and grew up performing with his family, according to the Associated Press.

"It's an honor to be carrying on a tradition that my family started over 200 years ago," Wallenda said during a recent news conference. "When I turned 19, I told my family I was going to set out to make sure everyone in the world knew who the Wallendas were again."

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His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73, the AP reported. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have been killed while performing wire walking stunts.

Wallenda already holds several world records, including the longest walk over a waterfall, which he achieved last year.

 

"There will be nerves right before the walk for sure, but some of the greatest entertainers in the world, the best entertainers in the world, get nervous before they go on stage," Wallenda said on the TODAY show Friday. "This just happens to be a very unique stage."

In order to prepare for the stunt, which Wallenda says has been a dream of his, he has been practicing in front of crowds in his hometown of Sarasota, according to the AP.

Each morning and evening, hundreds of fans watch as he walks across a two-inch cable hoisted on the banks of a river.

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"I'm just fascinated by the movement, the way he walks," Loy Barker, a Sarasota resident, told the AP. "He's just an amazing athlete."

Though this wire is only 20 feet in the air, walking it is an important part of his preparation, as is preparing for all climatic conditions, he told the Telegraph.

"At this stage, training is all about just spending time up there, getting comfortable and accustomed to walking that wire," he said. "Last week, I trained up here in 52 mph winds in Tropical Storm Andrea."

In the meantime, Wallenda said he already has his sights set on other stunts to top this weekend's performance. On his "bucket list" are the Egyptian pyramids and the Eiffel Tower, according to Channel News Asia.

"There's just places all over the world that I want to do walks," he said. "We'll see where my life path takes me."

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