No drones but plenty of high-tech gizmos at Aspen’s X Games |

No drones but plenty of high-tech gizmos at Aspen’s X Games

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Johanne Killi of Dombaas, Norway, wins the bronze medal Friday in women's ski slopestyle.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

No drones? No problem at the Winter X Games.

While ESPN’s production team decided to skip the use of drones for its telecast after groundbreaking camera work from the air last year, the sports television network has plenty of technological innovations up its sleeve, spokesman Danny Chi said.

ESPN is teaming with Intel and GoPro to provide some unique perspectives for viewers.

Snowboards will be equipped with button-sized Intel Curie sensors for the men’s snowboard slopestyle competition this morning as well as the men’s snowboard big air competition tat took center stage Friday night.

The Curie sensors will provide real-time readings to ESPN’s commentators — and viewers — on how high the athletes fly off the lip of the superpipe, how fast they move, how hard they land and their degrees of rotation while in the air.

“While this integration of technology and sports is still in its infancy, in the next few years everything we associate with the sports experience — how we watch, measure, train, coach and analyze — is going to be radically different,” said a news statement from Intel.

Most wearable devices collect data for analyzing at a later time. Intel says the Curie sensor gives athletes and coaches real-time feedback as well as provide data to broadcasters.

Meanwhile, ESPN will work with GoPro to provide views from the competitors’ perspectives for the second year in a row. GoPro’s live RF cameras will be fitted onto athletes’ helmets or gear, and the view will be mixed in with television coverage. A list of events where that technology will be used wasn’t available.

“We do keep things fresh,” Chi said.

ESPN says that its production teams decided months ago to forego use of drones this year. Drones were used on a limited basis last year. ESPN hired a company that specializes in drone photography. That company secured approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones with restrictions. They had to stay 500 feet away from spectators and remain a set distance from nearby Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

Drones were used last year for snowboarder X, which has a course up the mountain from the base, and the snowmobile hillcross.