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Reports: Former Formula One champ Michael Schumacher in “critical” condition

Last Updated Dec 29, 2013 6:45 PM EST

LYON, France - Retired seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is in "critical" condition following a fall while skiing off-piste in the French Alps resort of Meribel.

The 44-year-old German was taken to hospital in Grenoble in a coma following the accident, and placed under the care of Professor Gerard Saillant, a brain and spine injury expert.

Schumacher was wearing a helmet a helmet at the time of the accident, the resort director, Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte, told Reuters.

The hospital in Grenoble released a statement later Sunday saying he had "suffered a serious head trauma and arrived in a coma, making it necessary for him to undergo a neurosurgical procedure."

Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm was unable to give any further information about his condition but confirmed he was on a private ski trip and had not been alone.

Gernigon-Lecomte said Schumacher, who has a vacation home in Meribel, had been skiing in backcountry, which usually means along unmarked trails.

"He fell around 11:00 am and hit a rock with his head," he added.

Schumacher, whose birthday is on Jan. 3, is the most successful Formula One driver of all time with a record 91 victories among his achievements. He won his titles with Benetton and Ferrari.

He left the sport last year after a three-year comeback with Mercedes following an earlier retirement from Ferrari at the end of 2006. The German lives in Switzerland with his wife and two children.