Zorbing tragedy: Russian man killed after climbing into inflatable sphere and plunging off mountain in extreme sport

Denis Burakov, 27, suffered a broken neck and spine after the sphere rolled off the rocky ravine. He died on the way to the hospital. A friend, Vladimir Shcherbov, 33, who was also inside the sphere, survived. Investigators are looking into whether the Zorb operator was negligent.

Family photo provided by Yekaterina Achkasova/APTN/AP Denis Burakov (l.) is inside the large plastic ball called a Zorb before tragedy struck on Jan. 3.

A thrill-seeking sport became a tourist's death trap when a Russian man and a friend hurtling down a snowy slope inside a large inflatable ball couldn’t stop — and plummeted off a cliff.

The final terrifying moments of 27-year-old Denis Burakov were caught on video, and shows the activity — known as Zorbing, or globe-riding — at the Dombai ski resort in Russia’s North Caucasus mountains last Thursday.

Burakov, a married father of two, suffered a broken neck and spine during the deadly descent, while friend Vladimir Shcherbov, 33, had multiple cuts and bruises, according to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper .

Family photo provided by Yekaterina Achkasova/APTN/AP

Denis Burakov and his wife, Yekaterina Achkasova, as they pose for a picture at a winter sports venue at Dombai in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia.

Burakov died on the way to the hospital. Shcherbov, whose injuries were less severe, was later released.

The video shows the two men inside the polyurethane sphere at the top of the mountain. Operators at the resort charge 300 rubles, or almost $10, for the chance to go Zorbing, an activity that originated in New Zealand in the 1990s.

“Denis, you’ll be like Jackie Chan in the ‘Armour of God’ movie!” someone is heard yelling, according to a translation from the Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Anton Berg via YouTube

A Zorb operator gets ready to push the sphere in which Denis Burakov and Vladimir Shcherbov are strapped inside.


there’s a clear path for the sphere to roll on, it soon goes off course.

A person appears to intercept the Zorb at the bottom of the slope, but isn’t able to keep it still. The ball hits a bump and begins accelerating again.

Anton Berg via YouTube

The sphere is supposed to go down a set path as onlookers watch from below.

After traveling nearly a mile, hitting rocks along the way, the ball finally stopped on a frozen lake in the Ganachhirskiy Gorge.

First responders were able to ski down the mountain and attend to the victims, according to the Russian Emergencies Ministry .

A criminal case is pending, said Moscow-based news site Lenta.ru. Investigators are looking into the operators’ license and will determine why fencing wasn’t set up at the bottom of the attraction.

Anton Berg via YouTube

The Zorb pitches to the left, and someone can be seen chasing after it, trying to get it to stop.

The New Zealand company that first manufactured the Zorb said the Russian operator in the Dombai resort is not associated with them.

“The equipment was not manufactured by Zorb,” the company said in a statement. “The lack of proper berms to stop globes is absolutely prohibited by Zorb. Operating in mountainous, rocky and snow conditions is very dangerous.”

Anton Berg via YouTube

In the last moments on video, the Zorb can be seen plunging off the edge of the mountain. Officials said it ultimately fell 1 mile to the bottom of a gorge.

This isn’t the first fatal accident involving a Zorb.

In 2009, a 47-year-old teacher and a 15-year-old pupil learning how to Zorb raced down a hill in the Czech Republic. A net that was supposed to catch them broke, and the pair continued down the slope.

Source: www.nydailynews.com

Category: Accident

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