SEVEN-TIME Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery following a skiing accident in the French Alps yesterday, doctors said.
The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired driver arrived at the clinic in a coma and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.
It was not clear whether the 44-year-old German was still in a coma but the hospital statement, which was signed by a neurosurgeon, an anesthesiologist and Marc Penaud, the hospital's deputy director, said "he remains in a critical condition."
The retired driver fell while skiing and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the Meribel resort. Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene.
Earlier in the day, the resort said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.
But the situation began to look more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.
In an email to the Associated Press, Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, said the retired driver was on a private skiing trip and "fell on his head."
In other auto-racing news:
* Andy Granatelli, the former CEO of STP motor oil company who made a mark on motorsports as a car owner, innovator and entrepreneur, has died. He was 90. Granatelli's son, Vince Granatelli, said his father died yesterday of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif. Granatelli is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. His cars nearly won the Indianapolis 500 in 1967 and '68 with turbine engines. He broke through in 1969 with Mario Andretti driving his winning car with a conventional engine. Granatelli kissing Andretti on the cheek in Victory Lane is one of the most famous images in Indy history. In 1973, Gordon Johncock gave Granatelli another Indy 500 victory.
* Overcoming several injury-plagued seasons, Marlies Schild of Austria finally set the best mark for most World Cup slalom victories by winning her 35th race to overtake Switzerland's Vreni Schneider on top of the all-time list. The 32-year-old Schild is a four-time World Cup slalom champion, but she missed a host of races after breaking a leg in 2008 and then tore ligaments last year. That meant she was stuck on 33 slalom wins for close to 2 years until winning in Courchevel, France, this month, then following up in Lienz, Austria, yesterday.
* Notre Dame's Vince Hinostroza helped the defending champion United States wrap up a spot in the playoff round in the world junior hockey tournament, scoring twice and adding two assists in an 8-0 victory over Germany in Malmo, Sweden. The United States (3-0-0) will finish Group A play tomorrow against Canada (1-0-1). Flyers prospect Anthony Stolarz stopped 15 shots for the U.S.
* Shani Davis ruled again in the 1,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic speedskating trials in Kearns, Utah, edging Brian Hansen. The two-time defending Olympic champion won with a time of 1 minute, 7.52 seconds in the next-to-last pair. Hansen came up just short in the final race, crossing the line in 1:07.53. Jonathan Garcia, who was disqualified the previous day in the 500 for not wearing his timing transponders, after skating fast enough to make the Olympics. He came back to finish fourth in the 1,000 at 1:07.96, good enough to claim the first Olympic berth of his career. Joey Mantia is also going to the Olympics after taking third. Heather Richardson won the women's 1,000.