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Deadly Zorb Ride in Russia

One Killed, Anther Critically Injured

A 2-MAN ZORB RIDE ON A RUSSIAN ski slope January 3 proved fatal to one of them when the bouncing ball went off course and plunged down a gorge.

Burakov begins his fatal trip

Denis Burakov, 27, was with friends at the Dombai ski resort in the southern Caucasus Mountains, when he decided to take a ride in a zorb being operated next to a beginners' slope. His friend Vladimir Shcherbakov joined him in the lark.

The two of them got themselves hitched into harnesses and then were shoved off on the ski slope disregarding the fact that no safety measures were in place on that slope, such as catch fencing or guide barriers.

You don't know what a zorb is? A zorb consists of two inflatable, polyurethane balls, one inside the other with an air layer between them. The rider is semi-secured inside as it rolls and tumbles down a gentle, grassy slope to a secure spot at the bottom where the ball is caught.  The sport was developed in New Zealand 20 years ago and is now practiced in many countries around the world.

A proper zorb slope

None of these safety procedures were in place when Burakov and Shcherbakov started rolling down the ski slope. The zorb bounced along for a couple hundred yards and then bounced out of the path and picked up on a steeper path where they went hurtling faster down the mountainside for approximately one mile. Near the end, the zorb tore open and the two riders were ejected with Burakov suffering a fatal injury to his spine and the other rider seriously injured with a concussion and other injuries.

As happens so often these days, a family member recorded an 8-minute cellphone video of the preparation and plunge, then within hours had it posted on YouTube. This first video is an abbreviated version that shows the travel of the zorb as it leaves and begins its fatal trip. You will see a couple of people farther down trying to herd the zorb and bring it under control unsuccessfully:

 

In a news report on the accident, the Associated Press reported:

Sergei Loginov, deputy director of Z-orb.ru, the largest supplier of zorbs in Russia, said the zorbing run that killed Burakov was in violation of all safety rules. Zorbing requires a groomed gentle slope with fences on both sides of the track and a secure spot at the bottom where the ball can be safely brought to rest, he said, but none of this was present at Dombai.

"It's not even irresponsibility. It's an experiment on life," Loginov said. "It's all or nothing. They either survive or they don't."

Also available is the entire 8-minute video that begins with the victims getting into the transparent sphere and continues through the episode:

 

The Guardian further reports:

Rescuers could reach the two tourists only by skiing down a sheer, rocky gully. They dragged the men back up the hill. Burakov died on the way to hospital from spinal injuries; Shcherbakov suffered concussion and remains in hospital.

The Russian authorities have opened a criminal case into the accident, which took place in Mount Musa Achitara, a resort in Dombai, in the southern republic of Karachay–Cherkessia. Police are seeking the zorb's owner.

Burakov, a keen snowboarder, and Shcherbakov, were the first people to try out the ball, which had been set up just an hour earlier next to a beginner's slope, Russian websites reported. Their trip to the resort, on 3 January, was supposed to be a new year's treat.

Read the entire article in The Guardian HERE.

Hat tip:  Mark Donovan

A proper zorbing demonstration in Malaysia:

 

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