TV Skyline completes record winter sports season with FIS Ski World Cup in Saalbach

The final rounds of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup take place over the next few days, with the Women’s and Men’s Super G today (22 March) and the Women’s Downhill (23 March) and Men’s Downhill (24 March) contested on the Zwölferkogel mountain in Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria.

As well as being the season finale and the last opportunity for the international athletes to compete for World Cup points, the week-long event has also served as a run through for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships which will take place on the same course in Saalbach in 2025.

Not only is it a dress rehearsal for the athletes, it’s also a chance for those tasked with organising and producing coverage of the event – including TV Skyline – to make sure all is in order before 2025.

For this week’s FIS Ski World Cup Finals, Germany-based facilities firm and OB provider TV Skyline is providing production services and support for host broadcaster ORF as well as supporting the Austrian public service broadcaster’s unilateral coverage.

TV Skyline trucks in the TV compound in Saalbach

At next year’s World Championships in Saalbach, TV Skyline will once again support the host broadcast operation – it’s first Alpine Ski Championship as host broadcaster.

The FIS Ski World Cup is the last European winter sport production for TV Skyline, and the biggest production of the year so far for the company.

At the same time as the Ski World Cup in Saalbach, TV Skyline is also currently in Lake Placid on behalf of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation with Carr-Hughes Productions for the BMW IBSF World Cup, and at the FIS Freeski and Snowboard World Cup in Silvaplana, Switzerland. Over the course of the winter, TV Skyline has been involved in 31 host broadcasts as well as a plethora of unilateral productions – a record for TV Skyline.

For the Ski World Cup in Saalbach, TV Skyline conducted a site visit back in September – when snow was in short supply – hiking around the course with host broadcast director Michael Koegler to work out a camera plan. Since then, and following a few updates, the current setup consists of 140 different camera positions (with each mountain-side camera equipped with two microphones) to cover the various disciplines.

Included in the camera plan are nine super slow-mo cameras from Grass Valley (including some three phase and some six phase cameras, plus around eight high-speed cameras (SSM500s from Dreamchip). In addition, cameras to capture shallow depth of field shots are positioned at the start at the warm-up area, with another at the finish to capture the emotion of athletes and spectators.

And, to convey the speed and undulations of the course, two drones are in use: one FPV (first person view) to ‘chase’ skiiers as the move down the mountain, and another regular drone for beauty shots, with both provided via Theis Media.

Cinematic Saalbach: Capturing a shallow depth of field at the finish line

TV Skyline’s technical operation in Saalbach has been led by Alex Wenke, technical director. He explains that TV Skyline has five trucks in Saalbach, including its G10 truck with work spaces for the directors and production teams, with two galleries in operation.

The main OB unit is TV Skyline’s OB11, equipped with a Grass Valley switcher, EVS servers, Lawo audio console and Riedel Artist intercom. In addition, flight pack OB cases positioned next to OB11 are providing coverage for ORF.

Read more Kitzbühel 2024: How live drone shots helped ORF produce immersive coverage of the 84th Hahnenkamm Races

One of the most significant challenges of working on such a large scale production is the many logistical aspects to consider and plan for.  For example, the TV compound is far away from the finishing area, approximately 1.5 kilometres away. The technical teams are making use of fibre pre-cabling installed over the last year, with an installation of fibre on different points around the hill installed specifically for the 2024 and 2025 events.

Technical director Alex Wenke: spearheaded the operation in Saalbach for TV Skyline

Equipment also has to be packed into different cases and delivered to the mountain by helicopter, and the warm weather has also proved to be a challenge with teams not allowed to drive on the main World Cup slope – a problem for technicians, because they have to use the slope to get to the many different camera positions.

But, despite challenges, the pre-planning, working together with ORF has been very smooth, says Wenke, with ORF hailed as a  “solution-orientated” broadcaster.

An FPV drone keeps up with the action in Saalbach

One of the 140 cameras used to capture the action in Austria

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