Bringing Slackline to the Super Bowl Spotlight

On Tuesday, Andy Lewis (’08, Recreation Administration) was base-jumping from the Fisher Towers rock formations in Utah, at altitudes of more than 500 feet. Just two days earlier, the adrenaline-junkie was in Indianapolis, Ind., showing off his sport and sharing the stage with pop-icon Madonna at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.


Andy Lewis, also known as Mr. Slackline, was featured in this ABC News video after his Super Bowl debut. Video will start after the ad.

“I’m a breakout star, apparently,” jokes Lewis, who caught national attention performing aerial acrobatics from a suspended two-inch-thick nylon strap. Since then, he has received a slew of media attention, including a prominent photo in the New York Times. But personal fame was never part of the equation when Lewis signed on to perform. Rather, he hoped to bring a whole new level of public attention to his true passion, slacklining, and the lifestyle, “slacklife,” that comes with it.

In slacklining, athletes balance themselves on a flat strap of nylon webbing, as little as one-inch thick. Whether 3,000 feet over a canyon floor, “highlining,” or three feet off the ground performing acrobatic stunts, “tricklining,” slackliners are constantly defying gravity, testing their personal limits and abilities, and having a lot of fun. These are the tenants of the slacklife, says Lewis.

In sharing his slackline skills with a national audience, however, Lewis experienced a fair amount of culture shock in return. Lewis was approached by Cirque du Soleil after his and his friends Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s film “Sketchy Andy,” appeared in the 2011 Reel Rock rock climbing film tour. From there, he was carted off to big cities, five-star hotels and intense practice sessions.

For two months, Lewis worked 60 to 80 hour weeks perfecting his 20-second routine. “I got to be my own choreographer,” he says. “I just wanted it to look cool and smooth.” And he knew he accomplished that goal the second that he landed his backflip dismount on stage at the halftime show.

“I had about 20 houses cheering for me when it happened,” Lewis says of the friends and family that tuned in to support him.

Despite the televised interview, the bump in hits on his YouTube videos and talks of a possible tour with the Material Girl herself, “Sketchy” Andy won’t be disappointed when his 15 minutes of fame are over. “I just want to push my sport as far as I can,” he says, “and I hope people will see something they want to try. That’s where I want to take my life.”

You can also view the ABC News video here: