Two fun-seeking Russian men riding inside a giant inflatable sphere known as a zorb ended up on a harrowing, deadly ride off a cliff.
The two strapped themselves into the big clear ball on Wednesday, thinking they would be just rolling down the beginner hill at Dombai ski resort in South Russia's Caucasus Mountains. However, the zorb picked up speed and began bouncing and rolling before veering off course.
A man waiting at the bottom of the snowy slope to help stop the zorb couldn't restrain it. It hit another bump and accelerated out of his grasp, spinning over a rocky ledge.
The sphere kept tumbling down a ravine. Video shows the ball making huge bounces off rocks and ledges. It traveled more than a mile before coming to a rest.
Emergency services said the two men, Denis Burakov, 27, and Vladimir Shcherbakov, 33, were thrown from the zorb, about 30 feet apart, but could still stand. Two skiers pulled them to safety before they were rushed off to medical attention.
Burakov, a married father of two, sustained neck and spine injuries. He died on the way to the hospital. Shcherbakov remained in the hospital with a concussion and other minor injuries, mostly cuts and bruises.
Zorbing has become more commonplace in the last few years, especially since its appearance in a James Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough." Made of two spheres of polyurethane with a layer of air between them, the device was invented in New Zealand in 1990.
The zorb has been adopted as the symbol the 2014 winter Olympics, which are being held in Sochi, Russia.
The company that manufactures the officially licensed product immediately responded after the Russian accident.
“The equipment was not manufactured by Zorb,” the company said in a statement. “The lack of proper berms to stop globes is absolutely prohibited by Zorb. Operating in mountainous, rocky and snow conditions is very dangerous.”
A video, captured on Burakov's cell phone by a friend, shows the accident.
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