MOSCOW – What was supposed to be an alpine thrill-ride turned tragic when a giant plastic ball carrying two men rolled off course at a Russian ski resort and flew another kilometer down the mountain, crashing into a frozen lake.
The “zorbing” ball bounced off a snow embankment and skipped over the other side, continuing to roll down towards a deep gorge. An individual at the bottom attempted to chase it but was unable to catch up.
Denis Burakov, 27, died en route to the hospital after a six hour rescue. He suffered fractured vertebrae, three broken ribs, contusions of the heart and lungs, and multiple bruises. The other man, Vladimir Shcherbov, 33, remains hospitalized with serious bruises and lacerations on his body, according to a statement issued by investigators.
The accident took place on Jan. 3 at Mussa-Achitaro Mountain in the region of Karachay-Cherkessia in Russia’s North Caucasus. It was captured on video that was posted to YouTube.
Zorbing is an extreme sport that began in New Zealand in the 1990s. Participants roll down a slope in a large, specially designed plastic orb.
Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the accident and plan to question the attraction’s organizers. In the video an employee is heard confirming that a ride cost 300 rubles, or about $10. According to the Moscow News, the organizers had just set up the attraction and were operating without a license and fled the scene. If they are found guilty, they face up to six years in prison for failing to comply with safety regulations.