Hot reporters are willing to do more than just go down for a story some are nearly got killed by a giant ball. Not just a run of the mill ball either, it was a single ball (like John Kruk’s) or more specifically a giant transparent sphere intended to be fun.
Sphereing (or Zorbing) is the practice of humans traveling in a sphere, generally made of transparent plastic, usually for fun. Sphereing or globe-riding is generally performed on a gentle slope, allowing the rider to roll downhill, but can also be done on a level surface, as well as on water, permitting more rider control. In the absence of hills, at least one vendor has begun constructing metal ramps. Most spheres are constructed for a single rider, but some hold two or three. The longer runs are approximately half a mile. Globe-riding is very popular in New Zealand and the very first Zorb site was Zorb Rotorua.
The sphere is a double-hulled sphere, with one ball inside the other with an air layer in between. This acts as a shock absorber for the rider, dampening bumps while traveling. It also allows for a much more light-weight sphere made of flexible plastic, as opposed to the rigid plastic of a hamster ball. Many spheres have straps to hold the rider in place, while others leave the rider free to walk the sphere around or be tossed about freely by the rolling motion. A typical sphere is about 3 metres (9.8 ft) in diameter, with an inner sphere size of about 2 metres (6.6 ft), leaving a 50–60 centimetre (20–24 in) air cushion around the riders. The plastic is approximately 0.8 millimetres (0.031 in) thick. The inner and outer sphere are connected by numerous (often hundreds) small ropes. Spheres generally have one or two tunnel-like entrances.
On June 19, 2008 reporter Rebekah Metzler of the Lewiston Sun-Journal, fractured her back and bruised a kidney while rolling down a ski hill in a Chinese knockoff of the product at Lost Valley, Maine.
Statehouse reporter Rebekah Metzler was rolling down a hill inside the car-sized plastic sphere known as “the Zorb” when it bounced off a hay-encased post, went airborne and landed hard several seconds later.
Metzler estimated the ball sailed 8 feet into the air before coming down.
She drove back to the newspaper office and was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where she was admitted Thursday night.
Metzler was inside the sphere along with Sun Journal photographer Lincoln Benedict as part of a media preview of the ride.
Hours after Metzler’s 1 p.m. ride, it was still unclear what went wrong.
“I wouldn’t want this incident to become a black cloud over the Zorb,” Metzler said from the hospital Thursday night. “I think if things are done correctly, it’s safe.”
The ride features a large, inflatable sphere inside which riders are strapped and then rolled down a hill. The sphere is opening at Lost Valley this weekend with the announcement: “Take the wildest ride in your life down over our ski trails!”
Metzler said she had researched the “Zorb” in preparation for her ride and indications were that there was not a big risk of injury. Her guess: The operation of it on Thursday may have been more relaxed because it was not yet open to the public.
“That’s my layman’s point of view,” she said. “I think if the concern level is there, it’s going to be pretty safe.”
Metzler said it did not appear that the sphere handlers paid particular attention to how precisely the orb was inflated before she was sent down the hill.
Zorb Ltd chief executive, Craig Horrocks, of Remuera, Auckland, told the Boston Globe that his company has had issues with “a rogue and fake operators.”
He said the only official Zorb site in the USA was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near Dolly Parton’s theme park.
Zorb New England co-manager Jeremy Coito acknowledged that his business base in Danvile New Hampshire was not associated with Zorb Ltd, but claimed that “Zorbing is a generic trademark, a sport” and he could rightfully use its name.