Zorbing death 'troubling' for NZ inventors

The New Zealand inventors of zorbing have described the death of a father-of-two at a Russian ski resort as "very troubling".

And Zorb Ltd, which has developed the adventure sport of rolling downhill in a transparent plastic inflatable ball which originated in New Zealand in 1994, is now calling for a global code of safe operations to try and stamp out cowboy operators.

Mirroring the other Kiwi thrill-seeking sport of bungy jumping, zorbing's commercial success has spawned worldwide copycats.

"Unfortunately, when you have a new adventure sport like this come out, especially in developing countries, you tend to see a lot of people not following any form of regulation," Zorb Ltd chief executive Hope Horrocks.

Horrifying home video footage of the January 3 accident has captured the final moments of 27-year-old Denis Burakov.

It shows Mr Burakov and friend Vladimir Shcherbov, 33, who survived the incident, climb into the giant inflatable ball before being pushed down a ski-field.

As they got into the giant ball, a friend with the video camera is heard saying, "Denis, you'll be like Jackie Chan in the Armour of God movie!", reports the Daily Mail.

But the 'orb' soon leaves the groomed ski trail.

A man's voice is heard saying, in Russian, "Oh f***, it's gone in the wrong direction again."

It careers left and right, with the male voice screaming: "Hold it, hold it! Hold!", and then "Ah well, it's OK, it'll stop by itself."

It teeters on the edge of a rocky ravine, before disappearing down Ganachhirskiy Gorge at Dombai resort complex in the North Caucasus mountain range.

Once it goes out of view, the friend filming the ordeal asks: "What's going on there?"

"A catastrophe," someone says, and the footage is halted.

"The orb went on for about 1.5kms, jumping on the rocks and hitting them," a local police spokesman said.

Mr Burakov, from Pyatigorsk, was still alive but he died on the way to hospital, the Mail reports.

An investigation has been launched into criminal negligence causing death on the part of the extreme sports organisers.

Meanwhile, Zorb Ltd, which runs the popular Zorb Rotorua site, is trying to piece together what happened for itself.

The group runs globeriding.org which aims to promote safety within the globe riding community and now wants a "standardised code of safe operations" for any worldwide operator.

"Unfortunately this is not the first case of one of these incidents," Ms. Horrocks said.

"It is something that is very troubling for us. We follow any incidents like this that have occurred and will put it into our code of safe operations."

Zorb Ltd works closely with local government and other organisations to ensure the highest safety standards, she said.

Zorb NZ has no links to the Russian operation.


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