Unusual Sports: The world of zorbing

This sport is quite simple: You climb into a big inflated ball and just let yourself roll down a hill. Sometimes the person is harnessed into the ball, but it is not required. The history of zorbing dates back to when hamster balls were invented in the 1970s. The balls were traditionally made for small rodent pets. Although the first instance of Zorbing was recorded in the 1980s when the Dangerous Sports Club constructed a hollow sphere of 23 meters with a space for placing two chairs inside it. Since then it has evolved in the mid 1990’s to what is known as Zorbing! David and Andrew Akers came up with the idea of Zorbing in Rotorua, New Zealand. Since that time this sport has evolved and expanded globally. 

Since 1990, the human spheres have been exhibited in mass media, when the Gladiators event “Atlaspheres” was first aired. In 1991, Jackie Chan starred in the film Armour of God II: Operation Condor featured a stunt scene using a flexible plastic orb similar to a zorb ball. The zorb balls soon became the most demanding sport in the world of adventurers. In 1994, Zorb Limited was founded in New Zealand to commercialize zorb spheres. The prime aim of Zorb Limited was to popularize the game by selling more activity balls. Today, it is popularly performed in various countries. The Hill riding events are popular and commonly performed in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, Phuket etc.

This sport has opened up multiple locations in 7 different countries, including the United States. Believe it or not this is a sport for any age, though it seems the youth would be more willing to participate in this activity. A fun fact about this sport is that the ball that you use to compete, it was used as the symbol for Russia’s 2014 Olympics, showing that this sport is well known and very popular.

The objective is to be the first to reach the finish line, so part of it is speed, but also a bit of luck, for other participants could knock you off your course or you may hit a weird bounce and go flying off in a different direction. These events can also be held on ramps not just hills, both wood and metal, but really you just need some kind of slope. However, this sport is also popular to be held in water. The aim of this sport is to be as adventurous and as creative as possible in order to be the first at the finish line, however, like all sports there are some rules. In recent years, a lot of injuries have questioned the existence of the game. In 2009, a person died with another one severely injured when their zorbs went out of track in the Czech Republic. After repetitive deadly incidents, the Russian authorities introduced safety laws for the sport in 2013. Since the participants are hurling very fast down an incline, it is illegal to bump into other contestants in their bubble on purpose. The participants are also not allowed to wear any clothes that have zippers, and their pockets should be emptied. Another safety issue, they don’t want anyone’s bubble to pop mid-roll.

Again for safety reasons the standard Zorb (sphere) is about 3 meter in diameter, which is converted to 10 feet across. It has an inner diameter of 6 feet 7 inches (3 meters). The outer air cushion should be 50-60 cm around a rider. The thickness of zorb plastic should be around 0.8 mm, (0.03 inches thick). The orbs should be connected with numerous small nylon strings along with one or two entrances like a tunneWorld record holders of Zorbing.

On 8th September 2019, James Duggan completed his fastest 100 meters of zorbing in 23.21 seconds. He held the record for the fastest 100 meters in the Maguire Harvest Festival, Ireland. Rebecca Mazonson also held the world record of the fastest zorbing ride. She rode the zorb with a speed of 32 mph. Later, Keith Kolver broke her record and rode a zorb with a speed of 32 mph. Rebecca Mazonson holds the record for the longest time spent inside a zorbing ball during a zorbing event. She was zippered inside a zorb for straight three hours, 49 minutes and 6 seconds. Steve Camp holds the world record for the longest distance