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FIS race director bans drones from World Cup races after near tragedy

A crashing drone, seen in this screen grab, barely missed World Cup champion Henrik Kristoffersen during a slalom race in Vienna.
A crashing drone, seen in this screen grab, barely missed World Cup champion Henrik Kristoffersen during a slalom race in Vienna.

International Ski Federation race director Markus Waldner was irate after a four-time World Cup champion barely missed being struck by a crashing drone during a race, prompting Waldner to immediately ban drones from future races.

“This is horrible,” said Norwegian ski racer Henrik Kristoffersen, who was making a turn in a slalom race when a drone carrying a TV camera crashed behind him. "This can never happen again. This can be a serious injury.”

And it won’t happen again if Waldner has anything to do with it. He told The Associated Press that “as long as I am responsible [FIS will prohibit drones] … because they are a bad thing for safety.

“It was huge luck that Marcel was not hurt. I am very angry.”

The incident occurred just a few seconds after the Olympic silver medalist began his run, the drone shattering into many pieces and barely missing him. If you missed it, Associated Press posted a video of the drone crash:

Drones had been used in ski races before, and FIS agreed to allow them during this race in Vienna, but the pilot was instructed that flying the drone over the race course was not allowed.

“He did not follow our instructions,” Waldner told AP. “He had to fly outside the race track and follow the racer from a 15-meter [50-foot] distance. Then there would have been a margin and nothing could have happened.”

According to The Associated Press, In-front, the company involved in the drone crash, said in a statement: “We are extremely relieved that apparently none was hurt. At the same time, this incident is being taken very seriously and the circumstances leading to it are currently being examined. An update will be provided as soon as secured information is available.”

Kristoffersen was “very relieved” that a tragedy had been averted.

“You don’t want to think about what could have happened when 10 kilograms [22 pounds] are coming down 20 meters [65 feet],” he said. “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.”

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