Balled to Death


This is zorbing. Who knew? (Photo credit: fotoyong)

It never ceases to amaze me how people engage in extreme sports without first considering why they are called extreme in the first place. Take the latest story from a resort in Russia’s North Caucasus mountains.

27-year-old Denis Burakov and 33-year-old Vladimir Shcherbov were visiting the resort and decided to do some zorbing. What the hell is that, you ask? Good question.

Zorbing is named for the company ZORB, which manufactures large, transparent plastic balls that people can ride down hills and other inclines. They look like the balls hamsters roll around in, only these are tremendous and would take thousands of hamsters to fill.

I’m glad no one has tried that yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

On January 3, Burakov and Shcherbov entered a large inflatable ball, which was not produced by ZORB, and started rolling down a steep, snow-covered slope. In a video posted to YouTube, the men can be heard laughing and having a great time, but it wouldn’t last.

Zorb 12

Stuck in the ball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For whatever reason, the ball veered off course and headed towards a cliff. Attendants were unable to stop the large ball from rolling and sadly, it tumbled over the edge.

Burakov broke his neck and died instantly. By some miracle, however, Shcherbov survived with only a concussion and some minor cuts and bruises. Police are investigating to determine if the “ball operators” should be charged with criminal negligence. And the ZORB company was quick to state that the equipment used did not come from them and should have included several safety features, but did not.

Despite all this, I have but one question: Did operators ever map the slope they chose to use for their ride? If so, then you would think a rocky cliff nearby would be cause for concern. Alas, that was not the case and now a young man is dead.

I guess the lesson we should all learn from this tragic story is this: balls can be dangerous. Feel free to interpret this any way you like and by all means, please be careful with them.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Awww that is sad. 😦 It looks harmless enough.

  2. I had to read this because I recently joined a gay dodgeball league. Out of the 90 members, only 4 are girls. I am one of them and have been subjected to many “where are your balls?” jokes. I think these Zorbs could add a whole new element to dodgeball and we’d be in an enclosed space so there’s no chance of falling off a cliff. Such poor planning.

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