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World-famous high-wire artist Freddy Nock is dead

Updated at 08 Feb 2024 3:50 pm

The Swiss high-wire artist Freddy Nock has died at the age of 59. This was confirmed by the Aargau cantonal police on request. There had been a police operation at his home in Uerkheim AG on Wednesday. Nock sought extremes in life and explored boundaries.

Police spokeswoman Corina Winkler said on Thursday in response to an inquiry that a violent crime was not the main focus of the investigation. She confirmed a corresponding report in the "Blick" newspaper. Freddy Nock came from the Nock circus family and achieved more than 20 world records with his performances on the high wire since the end of the 1990s.

Born in 1964 in the canton of Aargau, Nock had his first experience on the rope at the age of four. He began high roping at the age of eleven. Travels as a circus performer all over the world shaped the first half of his life.

He secured his first entry in the Guinness Book of Records in 1998 with a run on the suspension cable of the St. Moritz Signal cable car over a distance of 734 meters.

This was followed by further world records, including in May 2006 with a run on the suspension cable of the Säntis suspension railroad over a distance of more than 1222 meters. Or in summer 2020: a dizzying high-wire act in the Vaud Alps on the suspension cables of the cable car that connects the Col du Pillon with the Scex Rouge.

Steeper and steeper

Nock's challenge was to cover a distance of 40 meters on an incline of more than 39 degrees. The old record was less than 38.06 degrees. The second feat was to ride his bike over the cables at an unprecedented height - 367 meters at a height of 175.4 meters.

The star tightrope walker also balanced himself blindfolded over a distance of 151 meters and at a height of 200 meters above the ground without a safety device. Nock himself described this program at the time as "the most difficult of his entire career".

Shows with a wheel of death

The list of his "show acts" is also long: spectacular stunts and motorcycle rides in the steel ball with a diameter of 4.9 meters were his thing. He was also no stranger to the so-called wheel of death: stunts with two artists in and on a 360-degree rotating axle with two wheels.

Nock wanted to set new standards with his high-wire stunt world record attempt, postponed until this year, at an altitude of between 5,000 and 10,000 meters above sea level, as stated on his website under the title "Welcome to the world of extremes". In his stunts, Nock seeks the "ultimate challenge for body and mind" and continues to push the boundaries further and further.

The Knie circus family wrote in a reaction: "Freddy was not only an exceptional artist, but also a dear friend." The joint tour and the special performances, such as the walk on the tightrope over Lake Zurich, will be remembered forever, it said.

Nock fought for acquittal in high court

A trial against Nock caused quite a stir in the media. In November 2020, the Aargau High Court acquitted Nock of the charge of attempting to deliberately kill his wife. The Zofingen district court had previously sentenced him to a partial prison sentence of 2.5 years.

During the hearings before the district court and the high court, it became clear that Nock and his wife had a difficult relationship that was also characterized by violence. Nock's defense lawyer spoke of a "toxic relationship" and "a wild marriage". The police had to visit his home several times.

The High Court awarded him 11,000 francs in damages and 12,000 francs in compensation for lost earnings. The artist had had various performances canceled as a result of the proceedings.

©Keystone/SDA

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