12 celebrity ski accidents


She may be the woman in charge of Europe's future, but she's going to be spending much of the next three weeks on her back.

Over the Christmas holidays, German Chancellor Angela Merkel fell while cross-country skiing in the Swiss region of Engadin. Doctors diagnosed her Friday with a broken pelvis and she has been forced to cancel a slew of meetings as a result.

Even the mighty fall while skiing. Angela Merkel is just the latest example. Here are some others:

1) Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy. (Getty Images)

Michael Kennedy's life was a mess when he suffered a fatal skiing injury in 1997. News had just broke of an affair he admitted to having with his children's babysitter. There were rumors the affair had begun when the young woman was just 14, which would have made it statutory rape. Kennedy denied those charges, but was under investigation at the time of his death.

He died on New Year's Eve 1997. He had been playing football on skis with several other members of the Kennedy family in Aspen, Colo., when he hit a tree. He was 39.

2) Sonny Bono

Sonny Bono. (J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images)

Sonny Bono was said to have died instantly when he hit a tree while skiing at the Heavenly Ski Resort in Nevada. His death on Jan. 5, 1998, came just days after Michael Kennedy's and neither Kennedy nor Bono had been wearing a helmet.

Bono rose to fame as one half of the pop duo "Sonny and Cher," though at the time of his death he was serving as congressman in the state of California.

3) Princess Caroline of Monaco

Princess Caroline of Monaco. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Most people know Princess Caroline for being Grace Kelly's daughter, but she has also achieved accolades in her own right for being a superb skiier. In February 2001, she badly hurt her knee when she collided with another skiier in Arlberg, Austria. Her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, launched a $36,000 rescue mission to airlift her off the mountain.

4) Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Scott Barbou/Getty Images)

Schwarzenegger tripped over one of his ski poles and broke his right femur while skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, with his family on Dec. 23, 2006. He was serving as governor of California at the time and was operated on a few days later when he returned to Los Angeles. 

At the time of his injury, the Sun Valley Resort, which was popular among celebrities, had a short trail named "Arnold's Run" for the body builder-turned-politician. The trail is a black diamond for diffculty, but nothing Arnold can't handle.

5) Dieter Althaus

Dieter Althaus. (Jens-Ulrich Koch/AFP/Getty Images)

It was a ski run turned nightmare for then-head of the German state of Thuringia, Dieter Althaus. In 2009, he was skiing a black diamond in Austria when he wandered off course and onto a blue (easy) slope where he was going the wrong direction. He collided with a 41-year-old Slovak woman, who wound up dying from her injuries. Althaus suffered a traumatic brain injury himself, and was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Althaus was wearing a skiing helmet, while the woman was not.

6) Natasha Richardson

Natasha Richardson. (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

The story of British actress Natasha Richardson's death had all the twists and turns of a movie plot. She fell while taking a beginning ski lesson at the Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec. She hit her head, but seemed to be fine initially. Twice, she refused medical treatment. She returned to her hotel room and about three hours later began to complain of a headache. She was taken to the hospital, and she died on March 18, 2009, two days after the accident, at the age of 49. It was ruled that her death was caused by an "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head." She was not wearing a helmet and her death sparked much debate around the world over whether wearing helmets should be mandatory while skiing. She was married to Irish actor Liam Neeson at the time of her death.

7) Dieter Zetsche

Dieter Zetsche. (Thomas Niedermueller/AFP/Getty Images)

German businessman Dieter Zetsche, 56, showed his true colors after being whacked by a woman on a snowboard in Austria. The CEO of German industrial giant Daimler broke his shoulder but did not take any extra time off work. He showed up shortly after the accident at a Detroit car show with his left arm in a sling.

8) Heather Mills

Heather Mills. ( Justin Tallis/Getty Images)

Heather Mills, former model and ex-wife of Beatles frontman Paul McCartney, crashed into a plastic pole that had frozen solid while skiing on Moelltaler Glacier in Austria. She was training for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games (she lost a leg in a 1993 car accident and uses a prosthesis). In the skiing accident, she shattered a shoulder blade, but seemed largely unfazed. "That's skiing, you know," she told media at the time.

9) Johan Friso

Johan Friso. (Toussaint Kluiters/AFP/Getty Images)

The Dutch prince, Johan Friso, was buried in an avalanche while skiing  off-piste (unmarked slopes) in Lech, Austria, in February 2012. He remained there until rescuers were able to dig him out, unconscious, 20 minutes later. The 43-year-old was resuscitated at the scene but slipped into a coma and died a year and a half later, in August 2013.

The prince was no longer in line for the throne at the time of his accident, since he had given up claim to the throne in order to marry Mabel Wisse Smit. When the pair got engaged in 2003, her former friendship with a prominent drug baron sparked controversy, and the couple admitted to having been "naive and incomplete" in the information they had put forward for her vetting.

10) Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

The crown princess sprained her ankle while skiing in the Italian Alpine resort of Cervinia in December 2013. A spokeswoman for the royal family said the incident involving the 36-year-old, whose daughter is second-in-line to the throne, was "very undramatic."

11) Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher. (J. David Ake/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Schumacher's condition was "stable" but still critical on Monday, eight days after a ski accident left the German Formula One legend in a coma. It is believed Schumacher owns property at the Meribel resort in the French Alps, and was skiing off-piste near the Dent de Burgin area of the resort when he fell and hit his head on rocks. He has undergone two operations and is in a medically induced coma.

Schumacher began his Formula One racing career in 1991. He retired in 2006, having won a record seven world titles, most of those with Ferrari. Despite his race-car past, Schumacher was said to be a cautious skier.

12) Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel. (David Gannon/AFP/Getty Images)

And so Merkel joins royals and models, politicians and actresses with her recent ski accident. Merkel is bruised and broken, but expected to make a full recovery. She is still set to lead her first cabinet meeting of 2014 on Wednesday, though perhaps she will be slightly humbled, having taken a fall and maybe even learned a lesson. 

It's a lesson Vinko Bogataj, the Slovenian ski jumper who took a famous tumble on camera in 1970, knows all too well: the flip side of victory is the agony of defeat.

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