Monday, August 29, 2016


Russian Winter Resorts Under Scrutiny After Tragic 'Orbing' Accident

Denis Burakov (left) died when the orb he was riding in went out of control and plunged down a gorge.
Denis Burakov (left) died when the orb he was riding in went out of control and plunged down a gorge.
Safety at Russian ski resorts has come under scrutiny after a horrific "orbing" accident left one man dead and another seriously injured.

Denis Burakov, 27, died on January 3 when the orb -- a giant inflatable ball -- he was riding in veered off course and disappeared down a gorge at the Dombai ski resort in southern Russia's Caucasus Mountains.

Burakov's friend Vladimir Scherbakov, 33, was hospitalized with a concussion and multiple lacerations but ultimately survived the terrifying ordeal.

The activity is also known as "sphereing," "globe-riding," or "Zorbing" after one manufacturer of the giant, double-sectioned plastic spheres*.

A film of the incident shot by one of Burakov's friends has since surfaced on video-sharing sites.

It records the tragedy in horrifying detail, showing the orb lurch sideways off the gentle sloping course it was meant to follow. The sphere then begins to career out of control despite the efforts of a resort worker to catch it, before disappearing down a precipice.

WATCH: A Zorbing run goes tragically wrong at a Russian ski resort

Authorities say both men were thrown clear of the orb as it tumbled and were later found by skiers. Although Burakov was alive when he was pulled from the snow, he subsequently died of serious spine and neck injuries on his way to the hospital.

Amazingly, it's clear from the film that there were no barriers in place to protect the orb riders, despite the obvious risks involved.

The "Vesti" newspaper also reports that there were numerous other breaches of safety procedures, such as having two men riding in the orb at the same time and the lack of proper grips for grabbing the sphere in case it went out of control.

A Zorb (file photo)A Zorb (file photo)
A Zorb (file photo)
A Zorb (file photo)
The paper also says that there was no flat landing area to slow the orb's momentum at the end of the ride and that the slope used for rolling the ball was far too bumpy to ensure a smooth and predictable descent.

The owner of the orb has since been arrested and an investigation into the incident is under way.

Sergei Loginov, deputy director of, the largest supplier of such orbs in Russia, told the AP news agency that the orbing run that killed Burakov was conducted in violation of all safety rules.

“It’s not even irresponsibility. It’s an experiment on life,” he said. “It’s all or nothing. They either survive or they don’t.”

The accident has prompted Russia's emergency situations minister to demand the stricter enforcement of safety regulations for winter sports.

Vladimir Puchkov told reporters during a televised conference that he had asked those in charge of Russia's rescue services to take extra measures to ensure safety, particularly on the country's ski slopes.

The orbing accident was just one of several incidents to occur in Russia at winter resorts during the holidays.

Just this week, six people were hospitalized in one day following accidents on the ski slopes of Kolomna near Moscow.

* CLARIFICATION: This post has been amended following a statement from Zorb Limited, a manufacturer of the spheres, expressing sorrow at the tragedy and stating that the "incident was not on an official ZORB site using globes not [sic] manufactured by us."

-- Coilin O Connor, with contributions from Pavel Butorin
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Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 09, 2013 21:54
Aha, I guess the idea of the article is once again to demonstrate that Russia "is a horrible country", because this sort of incidents happen only there, as we are all very well aware off :-)).
But at any rate, looking at what happened to the guy pictured above, I realize that my own choice for a place to spend a winter vacation this year - namely on the praias and cachoeiras of Brazil - was a good one :-)).
Happy New Year, everybody :-))!
In Response

by: Michael from: Paris
January 10, 2013 09:12
Eugenio, you are right! When it comes to Russia or Belarus, the RFE/RL is so “just” and “analytical” that it would not miss even insignificant incidents on the local level in those countries. But when it comes to the serious human rights issues, for example, in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or some other oil rich countries, with whom the USA has very close economic relations and interests, it would keep silence. It is obvious that Russia and Belarus and a couple of other countries (like North Korea and Iran) don’t play a dirty games what IMF and other Western and the USA financial and business corporations try to impose on them. And also when it comes to the serious human rights issues in the USA itself, such as unlawfully detentions of the Guantanamo detainees; or financial manipulations of American capitalists what brought global economy to collapse; or the witness testimonies on 9/11 event which would give a clear clue about who were real masterminds of this event; or the issue why the USA and Britain are among 9 countries who opposed Palestine’s observer status; and etc and etc., the RFE/RL would keep silence. In such a situation how we would naively believe that RFE/RL is impartial, democratic and balanced media outlet. Never!

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