Michael Schumacher’s fall is a salutary reminder of the risks of winter sports, nowhere more so than in the French resort of Meribel.
That is where the seven-time Formula 1 champion has a holiday home and where he slammed into a rock, sustaining serious injuries.
“It’s a wake up call,” said one woman on the slopes on Tuesday. “I have seen the place where this accident happened and it is really stupid because it could have been me, you, anyone else, so it makes you vigilant, cautious. There are a lot of people…It’s a waste, it’s a shame.”
It also raises questions about the safety of skiing away from designated slopes. Avalanches are not the only danger.
“The slopes are marked out and secured so I would say the risk there is extremely low,” said Olivier Simonin, Managing Director of the Meribel Alpina site. “Off piste, all extra precautions must be taken and you must be aware that conditions can change from one day to the next.”
Referring to Sunday when Schumacher’s accident happened, he added: “As it happens, on that day, several centimetres of snow had fallen which may have concealed obstacles which were visible and not dangerous the day before.”
Even when wearing headgear, zero risk does not exist, as this case proves. Yet, aware of the protection helmets offer, more skiers at Meribel have been buying them since Sunday, according to sellers.
Our correspondent at Meribel, Olaf Bruns, said: “Most skiers know about the dangers and try everything to avoid them. But most of all, they want to enjoy these wonderful slopes.”