One False Move?

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, January 1996

One False Move?
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Brooke DeNisco, Martin Forstenzer, and Eileen Hansen)

Canadian high-wire walker Jay Cochrane expected last October's jaunt above China's Yangtze River to be the performance of his life. His host, the Chinese government, hoped for something even better: the greatest diversion of all time. The glitz-heavy spectacle kicked off what promises to be an ambitious spin campaign for the highly controversial Three Gorges dam, a project that has drawn harsh criticism from environmentalists and human-rights activists, who estimate that a million people may be forced to resettle. "I'm not a politician. I'm a performer," explained the 51-year-old Prince of Air, who agreed to the half-mile-long walk in return for a six-figure payday. If his reasoning seemed a bit shaky, his footwork was not: With 20,000 spectators looking on, the sequin-caped Cochrane tiptoed between Qutang Gorge's twin 1,300-foot cliffs, Tiger Face and Lion Face, in 53 minutes.

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