“You can’t think about the mistakes you’ve done before, or what could happen ahead. I think maybe a lot of people don’t really live in the moment enough, and once you sample a little bit of that, the intensity that the highline brings, you just can’t go away from it.”
High heeled women wobbled across a highline more than 4,000 feet above the ground in Hunan Province, China – an already difficult competition made even harder by their footwear.
Mia Noblet, a Canadian slackliner, was among the contestants, finishing in a little over 22 minutes.
“I usually always walk bare feet; to walk with high heels was definitely the biggest challenge because already to walk on a slackline, you have to balance and be strong and solid, and the high heels bring this, I don’t know, this insecureness,” Noblet said.
Noblet currently holds the women’s record for the longest highline walk, at 614 meters – a title she’s held since August, 2016, when she walked 222 meters in Northern British Columbia.
“Since I’ve gotten a few records, I’ve been travelling, or invited to events mostly in the last year and a half,” Noblet said.
The invitation to the event in China came almost randomly, she said. She had been slacklining in Brazil for two months when she received the message.
“At first, I wasn’t sure because I had never tried [highlining in heels], but I was actually in Brazil for two months before that, and I decided why not, like a cool challenge, and so I practiced a little bit before,” Noblet said. “It was a very different event.”
Originally a figure skater, Noblet moved to Vancouver on her own when she was 15 to train more intensely. She eventually switched to short track speed skating.
Starting to miss the outdoors, where she had spent much of her childhood, Noblet said she remembered a picture she had seen of a slackliner as a child.
“When I was seven or eight, I had seen a picture of a slackliner in the U.S,” Noblet said. “You might know the name. Dean Potter? He was a climber, wingsuit pilot, slackliner? I had seen a picture, and it had appeal to me. It was something I would love to do one day. But I was very young, and it’s not, at that point, it’s not open to seven-year-old kids to just go and try. But the image of that had stayed in my mind.”
She decided to give it a shot.
“I had a little line that was sometimes set up in the park, and I was like, you know what, I want to do this, it’s now, it’s the time,” she said. “I was tired of being inside. So I basically took my line out, tried a little bit, and I booked a ticket actually to go to Europe because I didn’t know it existed in Canada.”
In the six months between booking the ticket and crossing the ocean, where she anticipated a vibrant highlining community, she discovered the community that already existed where she lived, allowing her to get involved before she left. When she returned, she basically quit skating, she said, and started slacklining.
“I’ve been always in search for a new adventure, for something exciting, something new, something that’s not done much; I was in search of something that’s different,” Noblet said. “It was something I liked, and I always liked the outdoors, and the combination of that was perfect.”