The World Ski Championships in St. Moritz are a real challenge for Alpine downhill skiers. From an altitude of almost 3000m, after a steep start, athletes descend at speeds of up to 140 km/h.
Covering the event comes with its own set of challenges: complex logistics, extreme weather conditions and the lack of space for equipment close to the slopes.
Host broadcaster SRG (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation) and tpc produce the global feed for live broadcasts of the World Ski Championships and rely on Stage Tec equipment to do so: a large NEXUS network and several AURUS and CRESCENDO consoles.
Fifteen Nexus Base Devices are installed alongside the slopes, some of them right in the snow and others in containers (HUBs). Fibre-optic cables connect them to each other. Since the number of cables is limited, all communication, audio, video and control signals are sent via the same cable. One critical factor in planning is the ability to cascade multiple Base Devices easily. NEXUS forwards the signals from the field cameras and microphones to the TV compound, which is located at Salastrains, 2048m above sea level, where all 11 races finish.
More than 100 containers crammed with TV and broadcast equipment, editing desks and studios were built here. Several OB vehicles from tpc and other SRG subsidiaries were also present to produce the feeds for all the connected TV customers around the world.
The incoming fibre-optic cables from the NEXUS network come together in a NEXUS STAR router installed in an additional tpc OB vehicle in the TV compound. The router serves as a temporary central control room, with lines running to the OB vehicles of all the connected broadcasters.
Four OB vehicles from tpc and SRG are fitted with Stage Tec AURUS consoles in addition to NEXUS networks. They broadcast the opening ceremony, all the events, the award ceremonies and the closing ceremony.
“The wind, snow and the cold are the big challenges here in St. Moritz. We had an excellent experience with Stage Tec equipment at the last World Ski Championships here in 2003. The NEXUS Base Devices in particular are extremely reliable, remaining operational even in the snow,” says Markus Brockmann, team leader for TV outside broadcasting at tpc.
Before the World Ski Championships commenced the tpc OB vehicle HD-1, which acts as the production control for the downhill races, was fitted with seven of the new Platinum DSP processing boards.
“The console in HD-1 is a first generation AURUS and about 12 years old. Now the console provides triple its former channel capacity and powerful audio processing,” explains Felix Binder, head of sales and system integration at Stage Tec. “The AURUS still has the same control surface, but now has much more power. The upgrade went smoothly and only one type of board has been replaced.”
Two Stage Tec CRESCENDOs are used in smaller sub-control rooms producing additional feeds such as the World Feed Plus, which supplies rights holders with additional impressions and raw material from the ski races.
The World Ski Championships are being held in St. Moritz from 6 to 19 February, with around 600 athletes from more than 70 countries competing for medals and the title of World Champion in six disciplines Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super-G, Slalom, Super Combination and the Team Event.