When extreme kayaker Tao Berman paddled over 98-foot Upper Johnston Falls in Canada's Banff National Park on Aug. 23, the spectacle brought onlookers to tears. But for Berman the world-record plunge was an intellectual exercise. "I never feel fear. This was pure calculation," says Berman, a 20-year-old Oregonian. That equation had some tough variables: A bad landing would crush his spine and even a good one could crack ribs, and the waterfall flowed through a crack in the cliff face barely eight feet wide. Berman grazed rocks on one side of the falls halfway down, then plunged cleanly into the water. For an interminable moment his kayak bobbed upside down in the cauldron. "There was silence, as if everyone stopped breathing when he did," says Christian Knight, who watched Berman's plunge from a kayak at the base of the falls. "Then he rolled up, and people were applauding and crying."