My Take on the Fatal Zorbing Accident in Russia – Absolutely Needless!


Pod Zorbing London – A Proper Zorbing run-NOTE THE SAFETY BARRIERS

As many of you will know if you are regulars to my Bucket List, I am a massive fan of extreme sports and have tried many at some point, including: Wing-Walking, Bungee Jumping, Aerobatic Flying, Zip-lining from the top of a mountainCatapult Bungying, Bungee Ball, Sky-Diving, Indoor Sky-Diving, Caving in a Kayak, Hydro-Zorbing and Zorbing, to name a few…

Yes, these sports carry some risks, but they don’t need to be needless! There are ways to enjoy these sports in a way that minimises the risks… It is so important to research the experience you are planning to try first and to check the safety record for example… This is something I am conscious of ever since I tried bungee jumping on impulse in Thailand.  I didn’t check the safety record, and as it transpires there was both a death and a serious accident at the site as I later learned… Thankfully I was not a casualty, but as a mother it has made me think twice about not taking impulsive, un-calculated risks like that again in the future. 

After a poor customer service experience with Orb 360 in Brighton (nothing safety related) I was very careful about researching who I went hydro-zorbing with.  Pod Zorbing London were nothing short of brilliant and they clearly took safety and customer satisfaction seriously!

Would I do this again?  –  ABSOLUTELY!



The first thing you will note about their run (pictured left) is that there are high safety barriers that prevent the Zorbs from deviating off track. What you can’t see from this, is the giant safety net which then catches and ultimately halts the ball at the bottom of their run.

I had found another run near me prior to this one which I didn’t try, mainly because there were no obvious safety measures in place and the ground looked incredibly bumpy causing the Zorb to bounce very high… A friend of mine who had been there also told me she has bad neck pain as a result of this afterwards… 

Moral of the story-read reviews, ask people about it, and maybe perhaps, even check out videos of the experience posted by others on YouTube… My point is this.  There are good operators and bad operators.  Would you get in a car and drive on a race track without a seatbelt?!  It’s common bloody sense to use a company that takes safety seriously to minimise the risks of an accident!

Moreover, I am appalled that any company would set up business without putting adequate safety measures in place to prevent accidents!  This is why I am at a total loss for words about the fatal Zorbing accident in Russia that robbed a young father of two of his life.  Looking at the videos and pictures its abundantly obvious that this was completely avoidable! 

  1. There were no safety barriers
  2. The ‘track’ (if you can really call it that) was not adequately deep enough to avoid the Zorb running off course
  3. Why the hell would you set up a Zorbing run next to a cliff in the first place?!?!

The following is an account of the accident reported by The Mail Online

A father-of-two was killed in a horrifying accident when a giant inflatable ball in which he and another man were rolling down a mountain plunged off a cliff at a ski-resort in southern Russia.

Denis Burakov, 27, married with two young daughters, broke his neck and spine in the zorbing accident, say reports.
His companion Vladimir Shcherbov, 33, was hospitalised with concussion and multiple lacerations to the head and body, but miraculously was later released.

Zorbing Accident Russia 1

An instructor is asked how far the orb can go, replying ‘not that far’ and explaining there was a man lower down the mountain ready to catch it if it went off track.
But as it is pushed down the slope, a man’s voice is heard saying: ‘Oh f***, it’s gone in the wrong direction again.’
Suddenly the male voice screams: ‘Hold it, hold it! Hold!’ Then he says: ‘Ah well, it’s OK, it’ll stop by itself.’
The ball crashes through rocks and teeters on the edge of ravine – before disappearing from view, over the cliff.

The friend filming the death ride plunge asks: ‘What’s going on there?’
The voice replies: ‘Nothing.’ But then calmly adds: ‘A catastrophe.’ At this the footage stops.
At terrifying speed, the ball had plunged down Ganachhirskiy Gorge in the Dombai resort complex in Russia’s North Caucasus mountain range.

Falling steeply and battered by rocks, it was pulled down relentlessly by gravity.
‘The orb went on for about one and a half kilometres, jumping on the rocks and hitting them,’ said anaide to local police commander Sergei Shuvayev .

It came to rest on a frozen lake called Peacock’s Eye.
Surrounded by thick woodland it took rescuers an agonising long time to reach the stricken men, and drag the orb onto firm ground.
When they got there, Mr Burakov from Pyatigorsk, was still alive but he died on the way to hospital on the day of the incident, 3 January.

His companion survived. ‘He was extremely lucky to get away so lightly,’ said a local report.
‘As for whatever they felt falling down the slope it is hard even to imagine. Some compare the pressure to what cosmonauts feel,’ said the Stavropol edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
A probe has been opened into criminal negligence causing death on the part of the extreme sports organisers.
The maximum penalty is ten years in prison.

Zorbing Accident Russia 2

Zorbing Accident Russia – They call this a ‘track’!?

Zorbing Accident Russia 3

Zorbing Accident Russia – First it veers off to the right… Is is surprising, considering there was no barrier?

Zorbing Accident Russia 5

Zorbing Accident Russia – Then the Zorb veers off to the left!

Zorbing Accident Russia 6

Zorbing Accident Russia – Finally, it disappears down the mountain towards the cliff

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10 Comments on “My Take on the Fatal Zorbing Accident in Russia – Absolutely Needless!”

  1. May
    January 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I am absolutely gob smacked at the video! The set up is appalling, the fact they think somebody can stop that when it picks up momentum with 2 grown men in it? I commend you for taking the time to write about the informed way in which you have decided to approach extreme sports. It can still be extreme if the right safety measures are still in place, it makes it no less ‘cool’!

    • January 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Thank you May! It’s not cool to take needless risks, and it’s downright negligent to encourage people to pay for something that hasn’t been risk assessed and made as safe as possible. I hope the organisers get the maximum 10 year penalty

  2. January 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    That is quite scary! I would assume there would have to be some strict regulations in order to set up such a risky business, I’m not sure how they escaped them!

    • January 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      You WOULD think that Annette! Also, even if there weren’t regulations, you would hope that the insurance assessor covering them would have visited the site or requested pictures or video in advance of covering them-and subsequently refused public liability!

      Even if these things didn’t happen-you would hope that the people setting this up would have had half an ounce of common sense! It really is unforgivable.

  3. January 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Wow – I am not sure if I even want to see the video – how devastating for the family of the man who lost his life, and his friend who was right there with him! I have to admit – I have not yet tried zorbing – but I would certainly be checking out the company before trying it out for sure! Anyone could look at the measly snow banks and see how quickly the zorb could go off track – the weight of 2 bodies, the speed as they go down a virtually frictionless snow track….guess the regulations in Russia are pretty lax!

    • January 11, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      I think you have hit the nail on the head Anita! I bet the poor guy opposite him was wearing a harness camera too. This video will be a piece of cake to watch next to that one!

      Re this one, I wonder if the tourists even realised that there was a cliff nearby? …I certainly wouldn’t go anywhere near a zorb run that I believed had even an outside risk of falling off a cliff!

      Too much trust placed in people who didn’t deserve it.

  4. Alfonzo
    January 13, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    The inventors of zorbing, Zorb Ltd, issued a statement Wednesday saying they were “distressed” by the accident but said the Russian ride was run by an illegal operator and the equipment was not manufactured by Zorb Ltd.

    • January 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      I hadn’t heard that Alfonzo, interesting and unsurprising… More reason to do research before trying an extreme experience!

  5. January 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    holy crap this looks like fun!!

    • January 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      It is when it’s done in a safe environment! I’d recommend it! Check out my hydro-zorbing and sorbing posts!

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