Daredevil Wallenda says wire-walking is 'the norm' for his family

Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:33pm EDT
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Daredevil Nik Wallenda, who plans a high-wire walk between Chicago skyscrapers this November, says that for his family of acrobats, it is completely normal to be on a cable way up in the air - though it may look wild to everyone else.

"We all take risks every day, it's just we don't see them as risks because they're the norm. It's the norm to cross the street, it's the norm to get in a car," Wallenda said in an interview on Wednesday on the rooftop of Chicago's 50-story Leo Burnett Building.

"Well, for my family, it's the norm to get on the wire," added Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of the "Flying Wallendas." "We make it as safe as possible. But it is fascinating and mind-blowing to people because they can't relate to a guy 600 feet (180 meters) above a city on a cable the size of a quarter."

The 35-year-old previously has walked over the Grand Canyon and the brink of Niagara Falls.

Wallenda is set to perform the Nov. 2 Chicago walk without a net or harness in two parts. First, he is scheduled to walk from Marina City's west tower over the Chicago River to the Leo Burnett Building, going uphill rising to a 15-degree angle. Next he is due to cross from Marina City's west tower to its east tower.

Wallenda says he mostly concentrates on the other side during his walk, and this will be especially true on this one in a windy part of the "Windy City." He said the work is 60 percent mental, and he keeps calm through prayer.

"I don't believe that God holds me on the wire supernaturally," said Wallenda, a born-again Christian. "I believe God has given me a very unique talent and it's up to me to train properly. But I also have comfort in the fact that if something's going to happen to me, I know where I'm going to rest."

Wallenda's great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell to his death at age 73 from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.   Continued...

Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the U.S. side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, June 15, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Cassese