VIDEO: Marcel Hirscher escapes tragedy by inches as TV camera drone falls out of the sky
The world's finest all-round skier, Marcel Hirscher, was almost killed when a TV camera drone fell out of the sky just inches behind him during a slalom race in Madonna di Campiglio.
The Austrian has won the overall World Cup title for the past four seasons, also collecting two giant slalom and three slalom titles since 2012.
But his glittering career was almost cut short in a simply terrible accident in the night slalom race at the Italian resort.
The 26-year-old was blazing down the course when an official drone camera operated by the broadcasters Infront crashed out of the sky, landing barely 18 inches behind him as he made his way down the piste.
Hirscher was not hit, and appears not to have even realised what had happened until later - when he made an Instagram post thanking his luck.
The Austrian's time was just over a second off the pace set by Norway's Henrik Kristofferssen in the first leg, leaving him in second place.
And Norway’s Kristoffersen won the event by a sizable 1.25-second margin after the second run but such considerations are obviously secondary compared to the chilling thought of what nearly happened to a man who is on course to establishing himself among the finest alpine skiers in history.
Markus Waldner, FIS racing director, has already ruled out ever using drones again.
"The use of drones at great events in Austria and Switzerland is forbidden. But it is allowed in Italy," he said.
"That's why we agreed with [broadcasters] Infront that drones are not to fly above the raceway, but only above a corridor besides the spectators. I am sorry.
"What happened is a total mess and there will be consequences. Drones won't be used in the future."