What was supposed to be a thrilling ride down a ski slope inside a giant inflatable ball ended in tragedy for the two Russian men inside.
The transparent plastic ball — called a zorb — veered off course and sailed over a precipice in the rugged Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia. One man died and the other was badly injured. The terrifying ride was captured on video.
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.
I think Russia deserves a national Darwin Award in recognition of its people’s propensity to die, or nearly die, in craptacular fashion.