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Retired race-car driver Michael Schumacher battles head injury from ski accident

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Former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher remained in critical condition Monday after a skiing accident in Meribel, France, as reported by the Associated Press. According to a doctor at the hospital where the famous race-car driver is being treated, Schumacher, 44, was wearing a helmet that prevented Sunday's accident from being immediately fatal. Nonetheless, Schumacher's condition is still considered life-threatening. Particularly in Europe where Formula One racing is very popular, the German driver is a household name.

Skiing accidents involving celebrities tend to attract mainstream-media focus on the safety of the sport. In 2009 at Mont Tremblant, Canada, actress Natasha Richardson was not wearing a helmet when a seemingly innocuous fall on a beginner run led to her death. Entertainer Sonny Bono was killed Jan. 5, 1998, on the Nevada side of Heavenly Mountain Resort in the Lake Tahoe area. While skiing alone in the trees near the Orion intermediate run, Bono, 62, hit a tree. He was an experienced skier who frequently visited Heavenly.

Despite media attention on such accidents, skiing and snowboarding fatalities are extremely rare. According to the National Ski Areas Association, during the past 10 years, an average of 39.6 people per season have died while skiing or snowboarding at a U.S. ski area. During the 2012-13 ski season, 25 fatalities occurred at U.S. ski areas, out of 56.9 million skier or snowboarder days reported for the season. A skier or snowboarder day is defined as one skier or snowboarder visiting a ski area for part or all of one day.

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