Two minutes of footage from a camera on Michael Schumacher's ski helmet showed the Formula One great was clearly skiing off a groomed trail when he lost his balance and crashed, leaving him with critical head injuries, investigators said today.
The investigators said they have ruled out problems with his skis, trail conditions or signage. Although they would not estimate Schumacher's speed, they said it was not considered a significant factor in the December 29 crash at Meribel in the French Alps.
"His pace was completely normal for a skilled skier," said Lieutenant Colonel Benoit Vinneman.
Schumacher, 45, the most successful Formula One driver in history, is still in critical condition in a medically induced coma at a hospital in Grenoble. The impact of the crash split his helmet in two and doctors say the protective gear saved his life.
Prosecutor Patrick Quincy said experts still need to go through the footage image by image, but he said Schumacher landed 9 metres (30 feet) outside the marked trail after falling face down and striking his head on a rock.
Schumacher had been on a family vacation in Meribel, where he owns a chalet.
"Michael Schumacher is a good skier who knows Meribel," Quincy said.
Skiers and snowboarders continue to use the off-piste zone where Schumacher crashed, but say they know they need to be careful.
British tourist Steve Bovill said he always wears a helmet. Speaking from the sunny mountainside, he said, "It was an accident that could have happened to anyone."
Quincy said the investigation, which is standard after any major skiing accident, had no deadline and was intended to discover what happened, not necessarily fix blame. Without specifying, he said authorities plan to interview more witnesses.
Schumacher's 14-year-old son Mick was also skiing in their small group.