Zorb shoots off Russian mountain

18:05, Jan 09 2013

A man has died in a zorbing accident, an extreme sport that originated in New Zealand.

The giant inflatable ball was rolling down a mountain at a ski-resort in southern Russia, when it veered off course and over a cliff.

Twenty-seven year old Denis Burakov and his zorbing companion were bounced on to rocks as it speed down for one and a half kilometres, the Daily Mail reported.

Burakov broke his neck and spine in the accident, while his friend was hospitalised with concussion and cuts on his head and body.

In the video of the event, captured by a friend of the men, the transparent globe lurched off track, and a voice said "it's gone in the wrong direction again", according to the Mail.

Another voice chimed in, saying the ball would stop by itself. But as the ball disappeared from view, the friend filming asked "what's going on here"?

A voice replies "nothing", but then adds "a catastrophe".

A Russian newspaper compared the pressure within the zorb to what cosmonauts feel.

Zorbing has been around for more than 17 years. It started in 1995 with trial runs rolling the zorb down a hill at Auckland's One Tree Hill.

Inventors of the activity told the Otago Daily Times (ODT) the man's death was "very troubling".

Zorb chief executive Hope Horrocks said she was looking at creating a code of conduct for safe operations.

"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," she told the ODT.

Horrocks said it was not the first such incident.