Schumacher: Perils of the piste

Updated 10:14 AM ET, Mon December 30, 2013
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Michael Schumacher navigates a slalom course at the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio in 2005. The seven-time Formula One world champion remains in a critical condition following a skiing accident in the French Alps on Sunday. The 44-year-old was reportedly wearing a helmet. Ski safety specialist Dr. Mike Langran says a helmet can never provide complete protection in all accident situations, but its use "will have substantially attenuated the injuries sustained."
Schumacher skiing in Madonna di Campiglio in January 2008. "Accidents of this nature are, thankfully, rare events amongst skiers and snowboarders," Langran says. "The absolute risk of an injury whilst skiing or snowboarding recreationally remains very low, in the order of 2-4 injuries per 1,000 days spent on the slopes. The vast majority of people will ski or board all their lives without ever sustaining a significant injury." VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images/file
Schumacher skiing in Madonna di Campiglio in January 2008. "My colleagues and I in the snow sports medicine fraternity continue to recommend that all skiers and snowboarders wear an appropriately sized and designed helmet on the slopes," Langran said in a statement on website on Monday.
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The "Dent de Burgin" peak in the French ski resort of Meribel under which the retired German driver reportedly had his skiing accident. JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images
Schumacher was airlifted to hospital in Grenoble. "Medical care both on the slopes and in hospital in France is amongst the finest in the world and Michael will no doubt be receiving the very best care in Grenoble," Langran said. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images
Schumacher skiing at the Madonna di Campiglio resort in 2005. Langran said fatalities in the sport are relatively low: "The rate of fatality converts to 0.78 per million skier/snowboarder visits. Although it's not directly comparable, in the United States in 2009, 2,400 people drowned while swimming in public areas and 800 died while bicycle riding."
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Schumacher (center) on a ski lift at the Madonna di Campiglio resort in January 2006. Langran says that over the past decade about 41.5 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year in the U.S. on average. "During the 2010/11 season, 47 fatalities occurred out of the 60.5 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season," he added. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images/file