Meet Zorbing: It’s like hamster balls, but for humans

By: Jayme Fisher

Have you heard of the great cheese roll? The great cheese roll is an extreme sport over in England where a wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill while competitors run down it to try and beat the cheese wheel to the bottom.  Zorbing, this issue’s weird sport, is similar to the great cheese roll. However, humans are the cheese in this scenario. 

Zorbing is when competitors start at the top of a hill and race to the bottom as a giant inflatable ball (Zorb ball) chases them. A human is inside the giant plastic ball chasing the runners to the bottom. The goal is to make it to the bottom without the ball running the runners over. If the runners cannot beat the Zorb, then the ball will run them right over. 

The first zorb ball was invented in 1975 by French architect Gilles Ebsersolt. He originally called it the Ballule, which is French for bubble. Around the 1980s, a group of extreme sports pioneers changed the Zorb ball design. They made the ball 75 feet in diameter, which was big enough to fit two large deck chairs inside it.  The enormous ball was designed for Zorbing, but did not gain much popularity. As a result, the giant Zorb ball was abandoned. 

In 1994, two men in New Zealand, Andrew Akers and Dwane van der Sluis, finally perfected the Zorb ball to what people know now. Their design was picked up by the media and it quickly became an exciting new and strange sport. 

Zorbing is an incredibly adrenaline driven sport because the Zorb balls can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Imagine getting run over by a giant plastic ball moving at 30 miles per hour. The current record for the fastest Zorbing time is 32 miles per hour and is held by Keith Kolver. 

The Zorb ball has a variety of different designs for Zorbers to pick to help them strategize how to make it down the slope. There is the free-standing Zorb ball, which means users are freely moving inside the Zorb ball. Next, there is also a Zorb ball with harnesses to hold the rider in position. In addition, riders can fill the Zorb ball with water to elevate the Zorbing experience. 

For most cases, Zorbing is done on a gentle slope because it helps riders build to high speeds to blast past the runners. However, it can also be done on a level area for more Zorb control. This weird sport originated in France, but has been adopted all over the world by those seeking an adrenaline rush. 

Sources:, Zorbing Time

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