Investigators looking into Michael Schumacher's life-threatening skiing accident in the French Alps have said video footage shows he was skiing in the manner they would expect from an accomplished skier when he crashed.
Public prosecutor Patrick Quincy led Wednesday's press conference in Albertville, saying his team wanted to present their preliminary findings to the media. Quincy said the video footage obtained from the camera on Schumacher's helmet was useful and of high quality.
"We know precisely what path Schumacher was skiing along. We will be able to say with as much precision as is ever possible, how the accident came about," Quincy said.
He stressed, however, that their frame-by-frame analysis of the footage was ongoing. Schumacher appeared to have fallen a few meters off the piste, close to an intersection between blue (second easiest European level) and red (third) pistes. They said that the area was correctly marked, implying Schumacher could have known he had left the beaten track.
Quincy and a colleague were both reluctant to estimate the speed at which Schumacher was traveling when he fell and hit his head, but repeatedly said that the video footage showed Schumacher to be an accomplished skier.
"We cannot recognize [from the footage] that he was traveling at a particularly high speed," police commander Stephane Bozon said, adding that Schumacher appeared to be moving "at the standard speed of an experience skier."
Schumacher's long-time manager and friend Sabine Kehm had previously said the seven-time Formula One drivers' champion was not skiing swiftly at the time of the accident.
The investigators on Wednesday also said that Schumacher's skis and bindings were both "in excellent condition," and that they did not appear to be the cause of the crash.
Quincy told reporters that he had heard nothing more about a film reportedly captured inadvertently by a German skier on his smartphone. The man was quoted, albeit not named, in this week's edition of news magazine Der Spiegel, saying he was trying to film his wife on the slopes and inadvertently caught Schumacher's crash.
"I personally have reservations, even doubts, on this topic now," Quincy said.
Schumacher remains in a medically-induced coma at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire clinic in Grenoble, not far from the Meribel resort where he fell. He was airlifted there after his December 29 crash. His wife, Corinna, on Tuesday appealed to the media to leave the hospital and allow the doctors to work in peace.
msh/ph (AFP, dpa, SID)