Nik Wallenda amazed the world on Sunday after successfully completing two record-breaking skyscraper crossings on high wires- without a safety net or a harness.
Wallenda, a seventh-generation performer of the Flying Wallenda Circus acts, first walked across the Chicago River on a rope strung between the Marina City west tower and the Leo Burnett Building in Chicago. Starting at a height of 588 feet, Wallenda strode upward at a 19-degree angle, rising 83 feet and setting the record for the steepest tightrope walk.
"I feel incredible," Wallenda said after praying with good friend and televangelist Joel Osteen and completing the tightrope walks in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Recalling what made him nervous during his aerial performances, the 35 year old said strong winds and the steeper-than-expected angle of the first high wire caused him to hurry his performance.
However, as the winds forced him to crouch down 13 minutes into the walk, the AP reports that Wallenda, who is a devout Christian, said a prayer of gratitude: "Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God."
Wearing a bright red jacket with the Chicago flag patch sewn into the front left breast, Wallenda tested the tension of the first wire. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the 454 foot stretch from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of the river. The tightrope began at 588 feet from the ground and ended at 671 feet.
The next stage of Wallenda's high-wire event he undertook blindfolded - a 94-foot walk 543 feet from the ground between the two Marina City towers. At a fast clip, he made the stretch in little more than a minute.
During the walks, Wallenda wore a microphone and could be heard repeatedly thanking God as he completed the stunts. He also briefly paused to listen to the cheers from the crowds.
"Listen to that roar," he said, while balanced on the 3/4-inch tightrope. "I love Chicago and Chicago definitely loves me."
Part of the "Flying Wallendas," the daredevil comes from a long line of tightrope walkers, and has previously walked on a tightrope over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Wallenda says it's his strong Christian faith that gives him the courage to complete his stunts.
"There's no time for fear,'' Wallenda said on TODAY Monday. "I have to stay focused on what I'm doing. If I let fear enter my body then that's when an accident can happen so I try to just remain very positive and very focused."
As for what's next, Wallenda has said he next wants to recreate a 1,200-foot-long high-wire walk in Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia, made famous by his great-grandfather. The stunt at included two headstands on the high wire.
"I've trained a bit to do a headstand on the wire, but I've never done it publicly because I've always said if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it on that walk with him," Wallenda said.
"My dream is to actually walk the wire with my great-grandfather," he said. "I get goose bumps and chills thinking about it."