With 200m of air under his feet and 224m of highline to cross, Julian Mittermaier broke the world record for the world's longest slackline crossing – and all it took was one try!
The 21-year-old brought the world record to Europe by making the amazing crossing of that huge 224m gap over the gigantic Mauvoisin Dam in Wallis, Switzerland. RedBull.com sat down with him to hear what he he has to say about his incredible achievement.
Firstly, congratulations! Now give us some facts about your record run.
With 224m I broke Jerry Miszewsky's (USA) old record by 10m. It took me about 40 minutes, and the line was 2.5cm wide and 200m above the ground.
It was at a pretty spectacular location, too.
The dam wall is called Mauvoisin. It's the largest arch damn in Europe at about 200m high and 450m wide – and right out of a Bond movie. Slackliners in Wallis discovered the spot and suggested it for my attempt to break the record.
Is it scary?
Of course it is. In the beginning we were just standing around, wondering if we really want to do this. Nobody wanted to start to set the line up!
But you did. What is the procedure?
The car was packed with 700m of line that had to be unpacked. Pulley, anchor system and all the rest of the equipment had to be set up. The team was great, and everything went really smooth.
Is highlining teamwork?
It definitely is. You put your life into their hands. I had a fantastic team with me: Peter Auer, who is one of the best slackliners in Austria, Thomas Buckingham, the president of the Swiss Slackline Association, Nico Sedlatchek and Helmut Netzwerker. The team is also there to support you mentally.
You broke the record on your first attempt. Is that normal?
Absolutely not. It took Jerry Miszewsky 80 attempts to make just two steps during his 214m record attempt. I just wanted to see how far I could get on my first attempt. I thought that I had no chance to walk the whole distance.
You were surprised? How come?
I had a funny feeling. The dam wall is unbelievably cool – motivating and intimidating at the same time. But once the line is in place, it all feels the same. I was just curious to feel the tension of the line. We hadn't finished the set up, so it still was pretty loose. I had no expectations when I started walking, and was surprised on how calm everything was. I was calm, the line was calm, my pulse was calm.
The closer I got to the middle, the more I felt the tension. I got slower and took up to two minute breaks to wait for the line to stop swinging. It didn't feel like I was getting closer, and my feet slowly got tired. But it's about hanging on mentally. About 70m before the finish line I got excited, although I knew that the trickiest point was still waiting for me at the 30m mark.
What was tricky about it?
We slackliners call it the 'transition'. Oscillation changes radically, and the swings of the line get smaller but sharper. You have to change your walking style all the time. At the same time I got more and more excited because I was so close to breaking the record. But you should be relaxed. The team was great in helping me there. Still, we hadn't taped the last section, the backup line was at my knees, and the last four meters were uphill at an angle between 30° and 45°. My feet were sweaty and I started to loose grip – but I made it.
Fantastic! How did you feel?
I was in heaven. The moment I had solid ground beneath my feet the party started.
What's next – how far do you think you can go?
Only three people have done more than 200m on a highline, but I think we'll be going for the 300m mark soon – I once nearly did 276m. Jerry Miszewsky called right after I had set the new record to congratulate me, and I invited him to come by and try to walk another record, together!
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