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.
Lexile

If snowboarders feel like something is following them at the Winter X Games, they'll be right.

ESPN is adding camera-carrying drones to its coverage of the Winter X Games. 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. It approved the use of drones for commercial use last year.

Operating the drones comes with rules. The drones cannot fly over spectators. Nor anywhere near where they could interfere with incoming flights to the Aspen airport. It is little more than steps away from the Buttermilk ski area that hosts the X Games.

So, the network will put its cameras on the drones and have them 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.

"Any piece of technology we feel brings viewers closer to the event, we're interested in," said Chris Calcinari. He spearheaded the approvals process for ESPN. "I don't think there are many events that would actually allow us to fly a drone. This is a big opportunity."

Last year at the Sochi Olympics, Russian officials approved drones 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 those who have used them to get different looks during workouts over the last season. But they are not allowed at games, because 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, and its 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, next to them, or just about anything else. We want the viewer to hopefully feel like he or she is seeing something he's never seen before. If it gets them to watch a little longer, then we've achieved our goal."

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?

Assigned 168 times


COMMENTS (128)
  • Makayla-Mag
    1/22/2015 - 09:52 a.m.

    The part that will be reduced to make room is going to be the camera. Why i think it's the camera, is because people can see the racers through the camera. If it would be some other part, then people wouldn't be able to look through and see the racers.

  • joshuat2015
    1/22/2015 - 12:10 p.m.

    they will change the x games winter and make room for the drones thats why they might be reproduced to make room for the drones

  • icecreamisyummy
    1/22/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    drones could be the next thing. They are small airplane like things. You order something online and drones will deliver it overnight. drones are faster than shipping. Lots of people would like them better .

  • icecreamisyummy
    1/22/2015 - 12:53 p.m.

    drones could be the next thing. They are small airplane like things. You order something online and drones will deliver it overnight. drones are faster than shipping. Lots of people would like them better .

  • ethanc-Orv
    1/22/2015 - 12:57 p.m.

    How will the use of drones change ESPN's coverage? the use of drones would change the coverage by giving a birds eye view to give the viewer a better experiences.

  • Lin03
    1/22/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    I think that because of the drones, ESPN might get better coverage for the X Ganes. People might like seeing things from different perspectives. Maybe the pre-event commentary or the post-event commentary will have reduced coverage because of these drones.

  • SirPrancelot
    1/22/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    I'm just saying flying drones would terrify the pants off old people, and probably give some of them heart attacks. We would have a pretty serious problem if there was a ton of dead old people lying around.

  • arwillisb-Orv
    1/22/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

    how did they get enough money to buy a drone that stuff cost thousands of dollers.this might be great to use it and safe so a person dont need to put a camera man where they a snowboarding.

  • Brexa
    1/22/2015 - 02:06 p.m.

    The use of drones will make coverage easier because they will be able to show the games from the player's point of view. That will make content more interesting to viewers and admirers.

  • 16Colin-May
    1/22/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    Drones are cool but expensive to.I might get like one for when i ripstick there like skate boadst exept much harder to ride.Are they like gopro cameras ? if they are that would be use awesome.

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