Marcel Hirscher nearly hit by falling drone during slalom race

The international ski federation is banning camera drones from its World Cup races after a drone crashed and nearly hit Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher during a slalom in Italy.

FIS men's race director Markus Waldner told The Associated Press that drones will be prohibited "as long as I am responsible .... because they are a bad thing for safety."

The unmanned flying object carrying a TV camera came down and shattered on the icy slope just behind Hirscher during Tuesday night's race in Madonna di Campiglio. The four-time overall champion was unhurt and continued his run, finishing second behind Norwegian winner Henrik Kristoffersen.

"It was huge luck that Marcel was not hurt," Waldner said. "I am very angry."

The company responsible for the camera drone, sports-marketing agency Infront, said in a statement that "the circumstances leading to [the crash] are currently being examined."

"I didn't know what it was, but I felt something," said Hirscher, who was unhurt and continued his run. "I thought it was a course worker behind me, or a gate.

"This is horrible. This can never happen again. This can be a serious injury. ... There are a lot of cool things nowadays. But you have to guarantee the safety -- and that was just insane."

According to Waldner, FIS had agreed on the use of the drone at Tuesday's slalom but the pilot wasn't allowed to fly the camera directly over the race course.

"He did not follow our instructions," the race director said. "He had to fly outside of 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."

Drones have been used many times before at ski races. The ski federation said the new technology was aimed at enhancing the experience for TV viewers as it provides moving pictures from an overhead angle which regular cameras can't shoot.

FIS said legal restrictions in Italy for the use of drones at events are not as tight as in many other countries, such as Austria and Switzerland, where flying over a crowd has been banned.

Hirscher reclaimed the overall World Cup lead from Aksel Lund Svindal, who no longer races slalom.

The Olympic bronze medalist, Kristoffersen earned his sixth World Cup victory. He also became the first man to win the opening two slaloms of the season since Austria's Reinfried Herbst six years ago.

"Madonna is a real classic. So many greats have won here -- [Alberto] Tomba, [Ingemar] Stenmark," Kristoffersen said. "To be here as a winner is unbelievable."

Austria's Marco Schwarz, who started with the No. 33 bib, finished third, 1.59 seconds behind, for his first podium in only his third World Cup race.

Last year's winner, Felix Neureuther, missed a gate in his second run and failed to finish.

Kristoffersen showed a rapid rhythm, and his strength enabled him to maintain his balance even on a few tricky gates that were spaced differently from the others.

"The snow is really good," Kristoffersen said. "It was really fun to ski it."

After a holiday break, the men's circuit resumes with a downhill in Santa Caterina Valfurva on Tuesday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.