It was a very lucky escape for the Austrian competitor– a split second slower and he would’ve felt the full force of a hefty-looking multi-rotor copter on his head, taking him out of the race and most likely into the nearest ambulance.
The details of the incident remain unclear, though the camera-equipped flying machine is thought to have belonged to the broadcast crew rather than a hobbyist in the crowd.
The drone comes down so hard and fast that it’s hard to tell the specific model, though it could be DJI’s Spreading Wings S900, a hexacopter that can handle a take-off weight of up to 18.3 pounds (8.3 kg).
After the race, Hirscher said, “This is horrible, this can never happen again. There can be a serious injury.” It’s not clear if he was aware of the incident at the time or only learned of it once he’d completed his run.
Keen to offer the most dramatic viewpoints, an increasing number of sports channels are looking into using drone technology for broadcasts, though this week’s mishap will likely cause some to review their procedures, while possibly encouraging regulators to scrutinize existing rules.
International Ski Federation racing director Markus Waldner said drones would no longer be allowed at ski events in Italy, adding that they’re already banned at big events in neighboring Austria and Switzerland.
He said it had been agreed at the Italian event that the broadcaster could fly its drone in a corridor between the raceway and the crowd, but clearly something went horribly wrong on Tuesday.
“What happened is a total mess and there will be consequences,” Waldenr said. “Drones won’t be used in the future.”
As for Hirscher, he finished second in the slalom contest, pretty impressive considering he was having to dodge not only poles but an out-of-control drone, too.
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