Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One of the "Great Wallendas"

Stuntman Nik Wallenda is in a debate with sponsors over whether to use a safety device when he attempts to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire next month.

Wallenda doesn't want to use a device, such as a harness or net, he told an NBC News affiliate - but sponsors, who are funding the event, say otherwise.

"A lot of them have threatened to back out," Wallenda told WGRZ.

"I'm telling my managers, 'I don't want to wear a line,'" he said. "I'm fighting with everything in me to make sure that doesn't happen, and that's always been my dream to do it without."
 Nik Wallenda has said he'll back down if sponsors won't. (David Duprey/Associated Press)

Sponsors might be forgiven for wanting Wallenda to take safety precautions.

On June 15, the 33-year-old daredevil will attempt to become the first person to walk directly over Horseshoe Falls - the biggest of Niagara's three waterfalls - on a high wire. The steel cable will extend 470 metres from the U.S. to Canada - suspended nearly 53 metres above the churning and deadly waters below.

"A huge company would say, 'You're name's on this... if this guy loses his life are you going to going to lose your reputation?' So we are working adamantly to get those problems resolved and hopefully we will," Wallenda told WGRZ.
Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of the famed Great Wallendas, a travelling family circus troupe dating back to 1780.

He first set foot on a practice wire at age two, and has since set six Guinness World Records for feats including "highest tightrope crossing by bicycle" and "largest human pyramid on a high wire." He says he has dreamed of crossing the falls since he was six.

Because of that, Wallenda has said he'll back down if sponsors won't.

"This is my dream," he said. "If they force me to wear a mechanic or a safety line I'm not going to give up my dream."


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