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Schumi stable, but still critical

Grenoble: Michael Schumacher was in a stable condition on Wednesday, three days after suffering brain injuries in a skiing accident, his agent Sabine Kehm said outside the French hospital where he was being treated.

Kehm urged journalists to respect the 44-year-old German’s privacy after security guards said they intercepted a reporter disguised as a priest trying to get into Schumacher’s room.

“Security got him before he came close... I don’t want to go into details of what exactly we are doing security-wise. However, I can assure you there is security because we do have constant attempts from media and people to come close,” she said.

Schumacher is battling for his life after slamming his head against a rock while skiing off-piste in the French resort of Meribel on Sunday.

“His condition remains stable this morning. At the moment this is good news, but I don’t want to go into further prospects as it is too early. He is still in an artificial coma,” Kehm said at the hospital in the eastern city of Grenoble.

She added the “situation remained critical” and declined to comment on his recovery prospects. Doctors carried out an operation on Monday to alleviate the build-up of pressure in Schumacher’s skull as a result of internal bleeding.

Schumacher’s accident triggered an outpouring of concern among fans, former teammates and rivals around the world.

Schumacher’s wife Corinna and teenage children Mick and Gina-Marie are at his bedside and he has received visits from his brother Ralf and close friends. “They have the possibility to see him and be close to him so that is nice. There is always someone with him,” said Kehm.

Kehm said that Schumacher had been skiing with his son and a group of friends and denied claims that his speed had been excessive.

She said he had stopped to help a friend who had fallen shortly before the crash.

“Michael and the group had been skiing on normal slopes. In between red and blue slopes there was an (off-piste) area and they went into that. He helped a friend who had fallen and went into deep snow, hit a rock and was catapulted into the air and landed head down. It was extreme bad luck, not because he was at speed.”

It has emerged, however, that his helmet broke in two under the impact of the crash and that Schumacher arrived in hospital with a depression of the skull where he hit his head Helmets undergo crash tests to ensure protection for the head at a speed of up to 35km/h, prompting experts to say that he must have being going significantly faster than that. One source estimated his speed at more than 60km/h.