PARIS - Formula One legend Michael Schumacher may have retired in 2012 after a glittering career but his love for speed and danger has now led to a serious head injury while skiing in France.
The 44-year-old German suffered a blow to the head after hitting a rock at the upmarket Alps resort of Meribel, and although initial reports suggested his injuries were not life-threatening, he was later described by the hospital treating him in Grenoble as being in a critical condition.
The Meribel resort director, Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte, said Schumacher was skiing off-piste late Sunday morning with companions when he fell and struck his head.
After years of racing in the high risk world of Formula One and winning a record seven world titles, his accident suggests that perhaps retirement has not dulled his relish of dangerous pursuits.
As an F1 racer, Schumacher was known for his daring overtaking manoeuvres, his at-times almost reckless abandon in the pursuit of victory and his mastery of the tricky conditions presented by rain.
When he won his first world title in 1994 with Benetton, he did so in controversial fashion, crashing into his title rival Damon Hill at the final race after he had already scuppered his own hopes by going off the track when pushing hard despite leading comfortably.
It was indicative of Schumacher's win-at-all-costs attitude and his willingness to take huge risks in order to do so.
He almost provoked a similar crash in the final race of the 1997 season when battling Jacques Villeneuve for the title, an incident for which he was retrospectively disqualified from the whole season.
His career was also punctuated by accusations of dangerous driving following incidents such as a near collision with former teammate Rubens Barrichello in 2010, which the Brazilian later described as "the most dangerous thing" he had been through.