Watch a drone nearly hit skier during World Cup race

Technically Incorrect: Marcel Hirscher had just started his slalom when a TV camera drone crashed within feet of him.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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A drone crashes just behind Marcel Hirscher.

CBS News.com screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We marvel at new gadgets and often don't think of what might happen when things go wrong.

But they do, sometimes with horrible consequences.

Ask Austrian skiing star Marcel Hirscher. Viewing video of his slalom during the World Cup event in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, on Tuesday must have been quite chilling for him.

In a press conference after his descent reported by the New York Times, Hirscher said he had sensed something immediately behind him: "I didn't know what it was, but I felt something. I thought it was a course worker behind me, or a gate."

What it was was a substantial camera drone that crashed just feet behind his hurtling body. It belonged to the broadcast partner of the event, Infront Sports and Media.

"He did not follow our instructions," men's race director Markus Waldner said of the drone operator, according to the Times. "He had to fly outside of the racetrack and follow the racer from a 15-meter distance. Then there would have been a margin and nothing could have happened."

The International Ski Federation announced Wednesday that camera drones are now banned from all its events.

Hirscher had a lucky escape. It's unclear why the drone suddenly crashed.

"The initial technical report indicates a malfunction of the drone," Infront said in a statement. "According to the drone operating company, the most likely reason is a strong and unforeseen interference on the operating frequency, leading to limited operability. Detecting this, the pilot followed the official security procedure, purposely flying the drone as close as possible to the ground before releasing it. The aim was to destroy the drone, in order to prevent it from losing control."

No flying object has guaranteed safety. Something can go wrong, which is why some countries such as Austria and Switzerland forbid the flying of drones above people.

In the US, the FAA's drone guidelines say that they should never be flown "near people or stadiums."

"You don't want to think about what could have happened when 10 kilograms' (22 pounds) are coming down 20 meters (65 feet)," said Hirscher, who placed second in the race. "That would have been a very serious, bad injury. There are a lot of cool things nowadays. But you have to guarantee the safety and that was just insane."

It's clear that the skiing drone was far too close and may well have caused serious harm.

Sometimes, the shot just isn't worth getting.

Updated, 6:09 a.m. PT December 24: Comment added from Infront Sports and Media.

That's not safe.

CBS News.com