Denis Burakov, a 27-year-old father of two, was killed at ski resort in the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia on Jan. 3 during a ride in a zorb – a transparent inflatable sphere designed to roll down hills with people inside, according to the Associated Press.
The double-walled polyurethane ball bounced off course and fell off a rocky ledge at the bottom of the hill, the AP reported.
The two men inside – Burakov and a friend, Vladimir Shcherbakov – flew out of the zorb as it plunged off Mount Mussa-Achitara, the AP reported. Two skiers picked them up, but Burakov, who’d injured his spine, died on route to the hospital. Shcherbakov remains in the hospital, where he is recovering from a concussion and other injuries.
The horrific event was filmed on Burakov's phone by another friend, RT News reported. The video shows a zorbing run worker trying to stop the ball from rolling in the wrong direction and records the reaction of witnesses.
"What is down there?" one witness asks after the zorb disappears, according to RT News.
"A catastrophe," a person replies.
Sergei Loginov, the deputy director of Z-orb.ru, the largest supplier of zorbs in Russia, told the AP that said the zorbing run at the ski resort didn’t follow the sport’s safety standards, which include having a gentle slope, fences and an area at the end of the run where the ride can stop safely.
"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."
The zorb was invented by New Zealanders David and Andrew Akers in 1994, who spent the 1990s developing the sport, APNZ reported.
Andrew Akers told APNZ he was appalled by the accident in Russia. "To have complete idiots take my product, which I developed as a fun thing for people to enjoy, and do this is disgusting," he said. "It goes against everything we stand for and it amounts to criminal negligence as far as I am concerned."
Today, Russia’s Emergencies Minister called for better enforcement of safety rules for winter sports, mentioning the zorb tragedy and other accidents that occurred during the January holidays, the AP reported.