Four-time defending overall World Cup slalom ski champion Marcel Hirscher was extremely lucky to avoid being hit by a camera drone that crashed just behind him as he was racing on an Alpine course in Italy on Tuesday night.
The international ski federation, known as FIS, took swift action Wednesday morning, banning drones from World Cup races "as long as I am responsible … because they are a bad thing for safety," men's race director Markus Waldner told the Associated Press.
"It was huge luck that Marcel was not hurt," Waldner said. "I am very angry."
Waldner said the federation had permitted drones to cover Tuesday's event, but the contraptions were not supposed to be flown directly over the course.
"He did not follow our instructions," the race director said of the drone operator. "He had to fly outside of the race track and follow the racer from a 15-meter distance. Then there would have been a margin, and nothing could have happened."
Luckily for Hirscher, nothing bad did happen. But it was close.
"I didn't know what it was, but I felt something," said Hirscher, who finished the event in second place. "I thought it was a course worker behind me, or a gate."
He added: "I am very relieved that nothing happened. You don't want to think about what could have happened when 10 kilograms are coming down 20 meters. 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."