Drone Crashes During World Cup Slalom, Nearly Hitting Skier

When Austrian Alpine Skier Marcel Hirscher made his way down the course during the World Cup Slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, gates weren't his only obstacle. In a miraculous near miss, what looks to be a very expensive drone made an explosive appearance only ten seconds into the run. As the drone shattered into tiny pieces, a very loud message about the dangers of drone use in professional sports was exemplified on the world stage. 

Seemingly unfazed, Hirscher would complete his second run of the night to temporarily take first place, only to be later beat by Norweigan Henrik Kristofferson. Following the crash, Hirscher commented to the Associated Press: “This is horrible! This can never happen again. This can be a serious injury.” Keeping a good sense of humor about what could have been much worse, Hirscher later tweeted: "Heavy air traffic in Italy. #luckyme."

It seems the narrow margin of escape from these potential disasters is getting narrower and narrower. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before an accident like this ends horribly in such a public arena. What kind of safety measures could prevent this in the future? Is this just a random fluke or a precursor to a new age of potential disasters surrounding aerial photography in sports?

[via NBC NEWS]

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22 Comments

Drones for that application might not have been a great idea.

Since the skier all take the same route or almost, cable driven cameras would have been more safe apparently!

Usually there are cable driven cameras on some venues. They probably went for drone since it is cheaper (if there is no cable in place) and can cover the whole slope.
But as it turns out it was not a good idea (yet).

That looks like it could have been a clip from an upcoming Terminator movie.

Spy Black's picture

So the $64000 question is; who's drone was it? Was it an official drone of the organization, or was it yet another moron deciding he wanted a piece of the action?

It was official drone for live TV coverage.

Spy Black's picture

Hmmm, probably the result of an overzealous producer wanting to get close to the action. I think they should develop drones with longer focal length optics to maintain greater distances from whatever action a media operation is covering.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

yep i saw this translation and its crappy moment

eydbii myndir's picture

Lucky, lucky! I hope though we get to see the drone footage someday.

Michael Rapp's picture

The way I see it, either the picture taking community starts regulating itself/ drone Operators, or it gets regulated; be it FAA, or worse, the insurance companies.
They actually might impose pilot/ operating licenses and maintainence logs for all drones operated over populated/ inhabited areas before issuing any kind of insurance policy. Or operators may face the real possibility of getting sued to smithereens.

Christopher Nolan's picture

I believe starting in 2016, you have to become licensed

Yes, but the registration is online and can be done by anyone, without the need for testing or checking. So a person who is licensed but inexperienced could be more dangerous that an experienced unlicensed user. It should be about enforcement.

Almost 1.5 million people die every year from road crashes worldwide, yet there is no attempt to ban cars... This was an accident that should not have happened, but it would be important to understand what happened, as the person in charge of the drone would probably be experienced and it might have been a one off incident.

Anonymous's picture

And these accidents happen even with driver training and licensure. It seems like some of the more avoidable drone accidents could be avoided with some simple training. Perhaps the industry should follow the hunting model - i.e. provide basic skills and safety training for a reasonable cost and if unable to self-regulate, at least have states do it vs. the Federal government via a simple and low cost permit that is granted with proof of such training. That's just one thought, I'm sure there are many common-sense approaches.

Spy Black's picture

"Driver training" is, at best, a fast and loose term here. In America, anyway. The vast majority of people in the U.S. have never been properly trained to drive. Many can't even parallel park.

Back at this topic, there needs to be mandatory training and licensing, both private and commercial, for drone operation, as there is for all other aircraft.

B Jones's picture

Yup. The US doesn't have a driving test it has a parallel parking test...
Training is great but the current crop of people bought selfie and belfie sticks so I have little hope they will learn anything.

michael andrew's picture

"Almost 1.5 million people die every year from road crashes worldwide"-...

Those people are IN the vehicles that create the problems where as Unmanned systems remove the element of personal responsibility from driver.

The person flying this machine may have done everything they could have to ensure a safe operation within the rules and regulations required by the local and national system . Perhaps there was a mechanical failure.

In the United States the FAA has a long list of requirements in order to legally lift off the ground with aircrafts carrying people and its about time we employ those to all machines that have the potential to cause damage in the same manner that happen to no be carrying people.

Pedro Pulido's picture

I wouldn't say "perhaps it's only a matter of time..." By the way drones are developing and how affordable they have become, IT IS only a matter of time before an accident happens. Only then will people really worry and create specific laws and boundaries for the safety of everybody. Don't get me wrong, i love drones, but there is still a long path ahead of us !

Spy Black's picture

By that time the drone manufacturers will have lobbyists in Washington writing all the laws...

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Here's the thing. many operators seem to think that flight time is still the same under very cold conditions. In addition, coreless motors do not operate as good under such conditions as well. It's not a game-changer, but I believe quad manufacturers and drone trainers should emphasize this.

Taylor Osborn's picture

That's what I was thinking too. It could've been a battery sudden voltage drop on what looked like a custom X8 rig due to not warming them up prior to flight or it clipped something out of frame. Either way that's an unusual event with the redundancies built into most UAVs currently. Something you definitely don't see very often regardless.

It had nothing to do with batteries. Translated from a Dutch news website(http://www.nu.nl/sport/4188034/drone-crashte-voorzorg-skipiste-vlak-acht...):

"The drone that crashed last Tuesday [...] was deliberately crashed by the operator. This is the result of an initial investigation by Infront, the company that was responsible the TV registration and hired the drone" [...] "The flying device that holds a camera all of a sudden started malfunctioning according to the investigation, probably caused by interference on the frequency of the operating system. The operator followed the safety rules and allowed the drone to fly as low as possible and then crashing it as a precaution."

Drones are horrible. Hopefully once the novelty of these aerial images wears off, drones disappear from our skies.