Nik Wallenda smiles in face of dangerous Grand Canyon wire walk

Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:57pm EDT
 
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By Tim Gaynor

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona (Reuters) - When daredevil Nik Wallenda caught sight of the taut cable stretched over the yawning chasm of the Grand Canyon for the first time on Friday, his reaction ahead of his death-defying high-wire crossing on Sunday was pure glee.

"It was funny, I couldn't get the grin off my face. My playground's there and it's almost set up. It looks incredible," Wallenda, looking relaxed in jeans and a blue T-shirt, told reporters at a news conference in Flagstaff, in northern Arizona.

"I know that I'm mentally prepared, I know that I'm physically prepared, and now I can see that wire in place and visualize where I'm going to walk and how I'm going to walk and what I'm going to see," he added.

The self-described "King of the High Wire," Wallenda plans to step out late on Sunday onto the two-inch diameter steel cable rigged across a remote section of the Grand Canyon with nothing but the Little Colorado River more than a quarter mile below.

The 1,400-foot (426.7 meter) walk will be the highest tightrope attempt ever for the 34-year-old, at a height greater than the Empire State Building. It will be carried live on the Discovery Channel, with a 10-second time delay.

A seventh-generation member of the "Flying Wallendas" family of acrobats, Wallenda made history last year by becoming the only person to walk a wire over the brink of Niagara Falls. He will be using the same cable in the attempt on Sunday.

He first dreamed of the challenge during a visit to the Grand Canyon with his parents as a teenager. He said he has been mentally preparing since a return in 2007 by imagining himself stepping onto a wire.

There was no immediate word on any potential financial gain for Wallenda, but he is listed by the Discovery Channel as one of the executive producers of the live broadcast of his high-wire crossing.   Continued...

 
High wire walker Nik Wallenda balances on a 1,200 foot (366 meter) cable during a practice session in Sarasota, Florida, June 14, 2013. WREUTERS/Steve Nesius