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Deadly Zorb ride down Russian mountain sparks call for safety code (+video)

Zorb ride down Russian mountain veers off course and proves deadly for one man while injuring another.  Zorb inventor calls for safety code for the adventure sport.

By Associated Press / January 9, 2013

Zorb ride for duo turns deadly as the Zorb goes off course and over a rock ledge. Starting in New Zealand as a fun way to travel downhill, Zorbing has since spread throughout the world.

Moscow

The New Zealand developer of the adventure sport of rolling downhill in a transparent plastic inflatable ball is calling for global safety standards for the sport after two Russians rolled out of control in their "zorb" into chasm at a ski resort in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia Jan. 3. One of them died, the other was critically injured.

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A video of the violent misadventure has gone viral on the web.

"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 told the Otago Daily Times, a New Zealand newspaper.

The sport of zorbing originated in the 1990s in New Zealand and is now done around the world, most often on grassy slopes. Loginov said there are several zorbing spots on the outskirts of Moscow and dozens more around the country.

It was supposed to be a thrilling ride down a ski slope inside a giant inflatable ball that is to be one of the symbols of next year's Winter Olympics; it ended in tragedy for the two Russian men inside.

The transparent plastic ball – known as a zorb – veered off course and sailed over a rock ledge in the rugged Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia. The ball picked up speed as it flew down the steep slope, rolling and bouncing. One man was killed and the other badly injured

The man who died, 27-year-old Denis Burakov, was with friends at the Dombai ski resort, where they frequently went snowboarding, on Jan. 3 when he decided to take a ride in a zorb being operated next to a beginners' slope. His friend Vladimir Shcherbakov joined him.

An eight-minute video taken on Burakov's phone by one of his friends shows the two men being fitted into harnesses inside the zorb, which consists of two polyurethane balls with a layer of air between them. The zorb is then released to roll down the hill, the two men spinning inside.

But the zorb bounces off of the intended path, and a man waiting for it at the bottom of the hill tries in vain to catch the ball before it pops over a rocky ledge and disappears down a gorge below Mount Mussa-Achitara.

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