Officials at the hospital where the former F1 champion is being treated released a statement late on Sunday saying that Schumacher had suffered a cranial trauma and was in a coma as a result of having hit his head on a rock while skiing earlier in the day. They also said he had undergone brain surgery shortly after arriving at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Grenoble.
Schumacher "was suffering a serious brain trauma with coma on his arrival, which required an immediate neurosurgical operation," a statement read out to reporters at the hopital said. "He remains in a critical condition."
Hospital officials declined to provide further details, saying they would release more information on Monday.
It has been reported, though, that the renowned Paris neurosurgeon Gerard Saillant had arrived at the Grenoble hospital to take charge of the famous patient.
Mountain police in the region said they had reached the 44-year-old German shortly after the accident, and that they immediately administered first aid. They said he was airlifted to the hospital in Moutiers, closest to the Meribel resort, where Schumacher had been skiing within 10 minutes of the accident.
Christophe Gernigon-Lecompte, director of the resort, said Schumacher had been wearing a helmet and was "conscious but a little agitated." He was subsequently airlifted to the hospital in Grenoble.
Schumacher was reportedly skiing "off-piste" along with his 14-year-old son at the time of the accident.
Schumacher is Formula One's most successful driver of all time, having won a total of 91 Grand Prix races and seven drivers' championships. His world titles came both with the Benetton and Ferrari teams.
He retired from the sport for a second time last year, following a three-year comeback with the Mercedes team. Born in the town of Kerpen, near the western German city of Cologne, Schumacher has long resided in Switzerland with his wife and two children.
pfd/lw (dpa, AFP, SID)