Following his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of 2012, Schumacher was on holiday in late 2013 with his family – his wife Corinna, son Mick, and daughter Gina – as well as some family friends, in the upmarket resort of Meribel in France.

The German driver was no stranger to the slopes, having spent many holidays and off-season events skiing at resorts around Europe. Not only that, but Schumacher actually owned a chalet in the valley, and knew the exact resort and its pistes very well. The timing of his annual visit to the area was always welcome – not only for being during the F1 off-season, but it also took in Michael’s birthday celebrations on January 3rd.
But, just before 11am local time on December 29th, 2013, on a gloriously crisp and fresh sunny morning, Schumacher decided to head into one of the ‘off-piste’ areas beside the slope, as he went to help another skier – a fateful decision with tragic consequences. Schumacher hit one of the several exposed rocks in the uncleared section of snow and lost control. Launched through the air, Schumacher fell and collided with another rock 10 metres away, striking the right side of his head. His helmet was cracked in two by the impact. The then-44-year-old was initially conscious but was unable to answer questions coherently and displayed ‘erratic’ behaviour, which led medics – who were on the scene within minutes – to call for air extraction.
Schumacher was initially airlifted to hospital at Moutiers, before being transferred to a specialist trauma unit in Grenoble, where the extent of his injuries quickly became apparent. Schumacher was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital and required immediate surgery on his brain to stop swelling and to ensure a continuous oxygen supply. Suffering from heavy bleeding and bruising on his brain, Schumacher was put into an artificial coma, while the hospital’s head of anaesthetics Jean-Francois Payen said that, had Schumacher not been wearing a helmet, he would not have survived the fall in the first place.

It has now been more than ten years since the seven-time F1 World Champion experienced the fateful skiing accident. Since 2014, he has been receiving 24-hour care at his home, where his former office has been transformed into a private infirmary. Rehabilitation includes activities connected to his Formula 1 career. His care team plays back pit radio traffic from his racing days, and he is driven around in a ‘roaring’ Mercedes-AMG road car, aiming to stimulate his brain with familiar sounds.
Jean Todt, Schumacher’s former Ferrari team boss, cherishes the moments they spend together. Despite the drastic changes in Schumacher’s life, Todt feels privileged to share moments with him, often watching F1 races together. He poignantly remarked: “His life is different, and I have the privilege of sharing moments with him. Unfortunately, fate struck him ten years ago, and he is no longer the Michael we knew from F1”.

Schumacher’s incredible ability to separate Michael the man from Michael the driver is a key skill and mindset that his wife, Corinna adopted for Michael’s rehabilitation over the last decade. Preserved are the public’s memories of the infallible World Champion, the dominant Red Baron that every driver – no matter what they claimed – feared on track.
As Corinna said: “It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael.”

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