Denis Burakov 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.
Father-of-two 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 hospitalized with concussion and multiple lacerations to the head and body, but miraculously was later released.
The so-called “orb” was supposed to come to a halt at the bottom of a gentle snowy piste, designed for the sport, which originates in New Zealand.
But in a terrifying accident filmed by the victim’s friends, it lurched first to the right and then to the left.
As he got into the giant ball, an unnamed friend – who filmed the horror – is heard saying: “Denis, you’ll be like Jackie Chan in the Armour of God movie!”
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 an aide 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 agonizing long time to reach the stricken men, and drag the orb onto firm ground.
When they got there, Denis Burakov from Pyatigorsk, was still alive but he died on the way to hospital on the day of the incident, January 3.
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 organizers.
The maximum penalty is ten years in prison.
Astonishingly there were no barriers to prevent the out of control orb rolling relentlessly down the mountain.
Friends said that he had gone on a skiing holiday following the New Year.
“He became intrigued about the orb and the man said the trips were only 300 roubles – and that it was great fun,” said an onlooker.
“Denis was known to love extreme adventures,” said a friend.
He enjoyed visiting the mountains in winter and summer.
It was not immediately clear if his wife, Ekaterina, and his young daughters were with him in Dombai.