Extreme Sport What the Heck is Zorbing

A ZORB sphere is a large inflated plastic ball that a participant climbs into and the hatch is closed, and they run and roll around inside. -Think 'hamster ball for humans' and you've got the idea!

An over-sized inflatable hamster ball with attitude; it’s a ZORB. It can accommodate one, two or possibly even three people. It is a fairly new recreational craze and gaining in recognition and popularity.

A Hamster Ball, Improved!

Client getting used to the ZORB sphere, an extreme sport amusement

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The success of the inflatable bouncy-house for young children seems to be the perfect concept for this smaller, portable version that is created more for adults. The soft vinyl sphere is double-walled with an access port (or two) on the outside that connects to the inner sphere where the occupant resides. A gentle slope, flat ground or even flat water like a pond is all that is needed and the rider either allows the sphere to roll or in the case of flat surfaces, has more control over the course and can actually ‘walk’ the device called “ZORB.”

Close-Up of Zorb Sphere Interior

close-up view of the interior of a ZORB sphere, showing the ropes that support the center capsule

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Designed for one rider, it can accommodate two or even three occupants. The double-hull nature makes for a gentle cushioned ride and the occupants can bump around some and still be comfortable, and the soft vinyl construction makes the device lightweight and can be deflated for easier transportation and shipping.

Some recreational courses for sphering or Zorbing are made by creating channels in the ground and the Zorb or sphere rolls within. This is becoming quite popular in New Zealand where the first Zorb rides began. Wiki cites that at least one franchise is making tracks like a ski-lift for Zorbs to travel and be retrieved from. I am envisioning a ‘water park-like’ series of channels and paths for these amazing devices.

Ready to Zorb

Getting ready to ride inside a ZORB sphere, this is a amusement ride

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Some Zorb spheres have straps to hold the passenger in place while others have none,allowing the rider to move about. The typical diameter of a Zorb sphere is around 3-meters (9ft 8in.) with the inner occupant sphere being smaller 2-meters in diameter. The inner sphere and outer sphere are connected by dozens often hundreds of connection ropes, which keep the inner sphere positioned within.

A Liquid Center?

ZORB sphere, extreme sports. A ZORB rolling down a grassy hill

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Apparently one can ride inside of a sphere in the un-strapped state, with a volume of water. The image here indicates that the water provides a slippery cushion for the rides that remains in a spatial position as the sphere ‘rotates around’ the occupant down the circuitous course. –Sounds like a lot of fun!

Wikipedia cites one accident in a sphere-like device; on June 19, 2008 when a reporter fractured her back and bruised one of her kidneys in a downhill ride at a ski facility in Lost Valley, Maine. But the injured party was not actually riding a Zorb sphere, but instead it was a doughnut-shaped ball and being a ski slope, perhaps the slope was steeper than a typical Zorb track which tends to be gentler and less steep.

Down the Hill in a Zorb Sphere

ZORB sphere, extreme sports

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“Zorb” and “Zorbing” are trademark names for the generalized recreational sport of “sphering” which, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary lists as “a sport in which a participant is secured inside an inner capsule in a large, transparent ball which is then rolled along the ground or down hills.”

Jackie Chan in Operation Condor

When I first saw one of these spheres on a television show called “Gladiators,” it wholly reminded me of the ‘Rover’ devices on the old British TV series “The Prisoner.”

In this Brit Sci-Fi/Action series which focused upon one captured British Intelligence Agent in particular identified only as “#6”, he was imprisoned on a penal colony of some sort on an island state called “The Village” after some perceived falling-out with upper echelons.

This ‘Village’ was perhaps a place for captured, retired or disenfranchised Intelligence Agents to be held to either ensure their silence of secrets of state, or if it was being ran by some hostile nation, a place to extract secrets from their imprisioned residents.

The Village seemed to be populated with other Intelligence Officers and well as ’secret spies’ working in collusion with ‘The Village.’

On this island state a policing device that was somewhat alive despite being a ‘fabricated device’ seemed to behave with at least some autonomous intent, and was regarded as being ‘a guardian.’ Referred to once or twice as “Rover” apart from possessing semi-autonomy, it also served the many masters of the facility whom were identified merely as “Number 2.” The head person “Number One” was never revealed until the final episode and then, it was ambiguous at best. I was never really clear on the ultimate purpose of this rather bizarre television series despite being an avid fan at the tender age of, well; -let’s just say that I was young and leave it at that…

Somehow, if I ever were to climb into a Zorb-like device it would be the ‘Rover sphere’ from “The Prisoner&rdquo. That is the only thing that I would be able to think about. I know I’d still have fun in one of these. Hopefully though, this device will not carry me away to “The Village” and try to extract information…

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Martha lownsberry
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Posted on Sep 22, 2009