Zorbing has been around since the early 1970s. Ever since its creation and up to the present, the activity gained more and more popularity all over the globe. Nowadays thousands of people enjoy this recreation, which has lately been referred to as an extreme sport. The sport is insanely fun and generally safe to practice. But the more people engage in the activity, the higher the overall probability of accidents to happen. In this article we cover some of the accidents that did happen, and examine the causes. Even though only a very few in number, all the accidents that happened could have been avoided, if the persons involved had followed simple logic, or basic safety procedures when it comes to zorbing.
Zorbing Tragedy In Russia
In 2013 a disturbing accident took place at a Russian sky resort in the North Caucasus Mountains. Denis Burakov, 27 and Vladimir Shcherbov, 33 were the victims. The accident happened as the two decided to go for a zorbing ride on a ski slope. Unfortunately for them, the zorb took a random trajectory as it rolled down the unfenced ski slope, and ended up rolling off the mountain side and into the precipice.
As a result, Denis died and his friend was seriously injured. The incident got worldwide attention, and a lot of publications reported on this dramatic incident. But we have to pause the story right here, and ask one simple question. Isn’t it common sense that zorbing on an unfenced mountain slope, covered in snow might have a bad outcome?
The way that specific zorb “ride” was intended to work was shady at best. One person at the top would gently push the ball with the two passengers on the slope, and another person, 200 meters downhill was meant to catch and stop the human sized rolling ball. No safety nets on the slope, no lateral snow walls on the sides to keep the ball on a specific trajectory. Just one huge ball, rolling at 30+ miles per hour, on a snow covered mountain, and one man who was supposed to run through the snow and catch it at the bottom of the slope.
All it took was a bit of misfortune and the ball changed its path. The guy at the bottom ran through the snow in an effort to catch the rolling ball but failed, and the whole ride ended in catastrophe. Why would anyone consider this ride as appropriate? Why would anyone risk riding a zorb in such a manner? Is it not lack of common sense that resulted in an avoidable accident? Outdoor activities such as zorbing will be safe as long as you follow the basic safety precautions, just like any other outdoor sport or activity.
Zorbing Accident In The Czech Republic
A few years prior to the 2013 accident in the Caucasus Mountains, there was a similar accident in the Czech Republic. In an unfortunate turn of events, a teacher was killed and one of his students gravelly hurt, when they went for a zorbing ride in 2009. The premise of this ride was almost identical to the one in Russia.
The ride was organized on an unfenced mountain slope, and the only thing supposed to stop the ball at the end of the ride was a safety net tied between two trees. As you can see in the picture, the net gave way to the rolling ball. The inflatable sphere continued to travel downhill at high speed and it came to an abrupt halt when it hit a tree at full speed.
Yet again the same questions arise. Why would someone take such poor safety precautions when it comes to an extreme sport? Official zorbing operators from New Zeeland released a clear statement saying that such precautions are “poor” to say the least, and that safety nets are not to be used to stop a ball.
We have to add that there are other stopping mechanisms that have to be in place in order to stop such a ball. These include building up earth mounds that would slow down the ball, special fences that would prevent the zorb from leaving the desired course, and so on. This tragedy would have never happened, had these things been addressed correctly.
Zorbing Accident In Romania
In July 2016, a 17 year old girl from England had an unpleasant zorbing experience in Poiana Brasov, Romania. The accident was quite serious, as the girl had both her arms fractured. Yet again, this was the result of poor operating procedures. Even though the ride took place in a well build zorbing course, it seems that two things were not respected by the operators. Firstly, it would seem her harness was not properly fastened. Secondly, she rolled downhill alone, in a ball designed for two people. Such balls should always be ridden by two people at the same time, or the ball’s center of gravity will be shifted, possibly resulting in accidents. This accident too, could have been averted, had the proper precautions been respected.
These were pretty much the main incidents regarding zorbing in the past few years. All in all, in the past 45 years or more since its original creation, only a handful of zorbing accidents have taken place worldwide, despite the ever increasing number of people who try out the sport. All these accidents were the result of misinformation and poor judgment by certain people. These could have been prevented, if the people involved had known the basic Zorbing Safety facts. Overall, if done properly, zorbing is a safe sport and definitely a great thrill for adventure seekers.