Nik Wallenda says Chicago wind kept him from dawdling on wire walk

Baku, November 5, AZERTAC

Nik Wallenda successfully completed his controversial Chicago skywalk Sunday, breaking two world records and defying critics who claimed the stunt was too dangerous to perform without a harness.

In a spectacle drawn out over two hours for television, Wallenda completed the two walks in about eight minutes. The stunt added to the Wallenda family legacy, as its latest star ramped up the drama with last-minute rigging changes and concerns about the wind.

Wallenda, 35, began by walking more than two city blocks from the Marina City west tower to the Leo Burnett Building. That first crossing — which took 6:51 minutes and was done at a 19-degree slant across the Chicago River — set the world record for steepest incline for tightrope walking between two buildings.

Then it was on to the second, more difficult act.

Wallenda took a Leo Burnett elevator down to the street and returned to the Marina City west tower, where he wore a blindfold as he crossed to the east tower in 1:17 minutes. The feat was completed at more than 500 feet, making it the highest blindfolded walk recorded.

Both walks had their challenges for the seemingly unflappable showman. He was uncharacteristically quiet during the blindfolded walk, as he asked spectators for silence and did not provide any commentary during the stunt.

And while he chatted during the river crossing, Wallenda scrapped plans to take a self-portrait with his phone amid concerns about the nickel-size cable's movement. He initially had predicted the first walk would take 15 minutes, but it quickly became apparent that he did not intend to dawdle at 600 feet.

Police estimated that about 50,000 spectators turned out.

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