Is it a bird? A snowboarder? No, it's a drone. A drone camera follows Norway's Aleksander Aurdal during the men's ski slopestyle final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (AP photos)
Is it a bird? A snowboarder? No, it's a drone.
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Some snowboarders might feel like something is following them at the Winter X Games. And they'll be right.

ESPN is adding camera-carrying drones to its coverage. The network is using the technology to cover snowboardcross and snowmobiling events. The X Games are this week in Aspen, Colorado.

"It's kind of like the sports here," said ESPN senior coordinating producer Rich Feinberg. "They're all about progression. And we want the coverage to progress as well."

ESPN worked for approval with several entities. Those included the Federal Aviation Administration.

Operating the drones comes with rules. The drones cannot fly over spectators. Or anywhere near where they could interfere with incoming flights. The Aspen airport is little more than steps away from the Buttermilk ski area. That area hosts the X Games.

The network will put its cameras on the drones. They will hover over, aside and behind racers. The drones will follow the action on sections of the snowboardcross course and at the end of the snowmobiling course. The events start Thursday. TV coverage is planned throughout the weekend.

Last year at the Sochi Olympics, Russian officials approved drones. They were used to help get shots of snowboard and ski jumping events.

Drones have also been making appearances at more football practices. Miami, Louisville, UCLA and Tennessee are among colleges that have used them. The idea is to get different looks during workouts. But they are not allowed at games. Regulations don't allow flying over stadiums.

Colleges use drones to help football players

ESPN works with a company that specializes in taking video with drones. That company's technicians will operate the devices. The cameras on the drones will feed footage back to the main truck.

"I'm as excited as anyone to see what this looks like," Feinberg said. "You can picture them flying in front of the pack of racers. Or just about anything else. We want the viewer to hopefully feel like he or she is seeing something he's never seen before."

Critical thinking challenge: How will the use of drones change ESPN's coverage? Which part of ESPN's coverage may be reduced to make room for coverage from drones?

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COMMENTS (60)
  • JackS-4
    1/23/2015 - 01:59 a.m.

    In this year's x-games, officials approved the use of drone-oprated cameras. There are rules though. No flying over the spectators, and no flying in the paths of aircraft. This is important because the Aspen airport is right next to the arena.

    The use of drones has been very controversial lately for privacy issues. I approve drone use, since I don't have a problem with having camera drones flying overhead.

  • galvinc-
    1/23/2015 - 08:38 a.m.

    This story is about the X games in Aspen Colorado . Snowberder Aleksander Aurdal ESPN is adding camera-carrying drones to its coverage. The network is using the technology . I think it's very intresting that ESPN is coverage this snow event on tv . And they can get closer taking pitcures of the snow border .

  • JeVon-Mag
    1/23/2015 - 09:54 a.m.

    I think it would be better if people could get a better view of football and get to see a lot of detail

  • Noah_pierce2000
    1/23/2015 - 09:57 a.m.

    the use of drones will help ESPN's coverage because it will be much more accurate and up close to the performer as possible. This will bring in many more viewers and excite the other ESPN watchers even more. I think they will reduce some of the random talks that they have and insert these with the commentary over that footage.

  • Mikenator
    1/23/2015 - 09:59 a.m.

    The use of Drones will allow many different ways to view these sports, as well as a more efficient way of viewing. It will most likely reduce the number of employees, however.

  • Kayles_28
    1/23/2015 - 10:06 a.m.

    I think that it is interesting how we are starting to use drones during sporting events. If we keep using them now, then I believe that the impact it has on people can be very powerful.

  • DakotaD99
    1/23/2015 - 10:12 a.m.

    They will hopefully give viewers more angles to things that they might not have seen before. I feel there will be less instant replays on big plays that had happened.

  • kenzies15
    1/23/2015 - 10:15 a.m.

    Drones will change ESPN's coverage because they can help find out things to show them that you can't see on your own. The part of ESPN's coverage that may be reduced to make room for coverage from drones is the camera place because they're going to need room for the drones to take place in helping them.

  • MiahP2018
    1/23/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    These drones will change ESPN's coverage by giving you the full affect of the snowboarding or snowmobiling events. ESPN's coverage may be reduced in the less intense sports.

  • Olivia817
    1/23/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    The drones will change ESPN coverage by making it possible to get good coverage from up in the air. Coverage from the ground may be reduced if drones are used in the air.

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