The zorb, essentially a giant, inflatable human hamster ball, is supposed to be a joyous, transparent symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But it seems it can also be an extremely dangerous resort ride. Denis Burakov, 27, was killed last weekend when the zorb he was riding in with his friend, Vladimir Scherbov, took a plunge off a cliff at a ski area in the southern Russian state of Abkhazia. The zorb was supposed to come to a gentle stop at the bottom of the slope when it suddenly veered away from its handler and careened into a ravine. Burakov sustained a broken neck and died en route to the hospital. Scherbov received a concussion and multiple lacerations but is expected to survive.
In a video of the incident, taken by a friend, one of the handlers can be seen desperately chasing the zorb before it gets away and disappears behind a hill.
An investigation is being launched into possible criminal negligence on the part of the resort operators.