The thing about being strapped into a transparent plastic ball and rolled off a steep, rugged mountain is that you relinquish all control over your life. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened on the rugged Caucasus Mountains of Russia on Jan. 3.
The so-called zorb, essentially un-steerable, with 27-year-old Denis Burakov and Vladimir Shcherbakov strapped inside, veered off a low-bordered course near a beginners’ ski slope before barreling down a rocky cliff where it bounced off the rocks down a steep mountain gorge before both riders were ejected.
Burakov, who was visiting the Dombai ski resort with friends, was killed and Shcherbakov, a friend, was badly injured.
The zorb careened off course as a man waiting to unstrap the pair at the bottom of a hill tried desparately to catch up with the ill-fated giant sphere.
to catch the ball before it pops over a rocky ledge and disappears down a gorge below Mount Mussa-Achitara.
Sergei Loginov, deputy director of Z-orb.ru, the largest supplier of zorbs in Russia, said the zorbing run that killed Burakov was “conducted 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."
Zorbing became popular in the 1990s in New Zealand and today there are zorb rides offered all around the world, more often than not down grassy SLOPES on grassy slopes.
Russian authorities are investigating zorb ride that saw the men plunge over a rocky ledge and disappear down a gorge below Mount Mussa-Achitara.