Michael Schumacher

Schumacher skiing


When Howard Dunaier emailed me about Michael Schumacher – the most successful Formula One driver of all time – getting hurt in a skiing accident, the day before New Year’s Eve, I think he was more upset than I was. At the time, I really didn’t have much of an emotional reaction and I still don’t. I am not sure why. There is no doubt that Schumacher is one of the world’s best athletes – even if you don’t believe that driving a car is an athletic endeavor, it is hard not to be impressed by his making a Billion dollars by doing it – but, for me, he has always been easier to admire than love.

As an aside. I said for me because I don’t know Schumacher – of course I have never met him, I haven’t even seen him drive in person – and all my reactions to him are my reactions, my projections. I don’t want to say for me in every paragraph below but please be aware that it is there. End aside.

Stirling Moss, probably the greatest race driver never to win a championship, said, To achieve anything, you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster. Schumacher, who won seven Formula One World Championships, almost never seemed to be dabbling on that edge. Sure, he  had great desire, speed, racecraft, and is relentlessly  fit, but his work ethic and ability to build a team around him are what set him apart. He was too invulnerable to be a warm and fuzzy, a lovable, kind of guy. He seemed unemotional, but nobody can drive as well as he did in his prime without being emotional and Schumacher, in the moment, over the years, he has done some very emotional, very dangerous, and very stupid things.

By all accounts, the way he skied on the day of the accident was not one of them. But, I am sure that Michael Schumacher does not ski like a normal 44-year-old man. Either way, he fell nine days ago and nobody is yet willing to say he is going to live. That, in itself, is pretty unusual. They have placed him in an artificial comma and have – somehow – reduced his temperature to below normal. I think that is also unusual for this period of time, so it does not look  very good.

In the strange way that life works, that has made Michael seem very vulnerable, for the first time.




One thought on “Michael Schumacher

  1. I find Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident very upsetting. Over the years of watching him race, I went from thinking of him as being almost robotic, he just won and won and won, so focused, I didn’t see his emotions, to feeling so happy every time I saw him smile. As I watched him more, I came to respect him on many levels, not just his driving ability, but also his passion for the sport, and his respect for his team members. Like many others, I assumed that, especially since he was a race car driver, he must have been skiing wildly out of control to have this severe an accident; probably about the love for speed and/or danger; and to find out this was not the case – he was neither going very fast, nor in some extremely steep terrain – was disconcerting. And as I thought about it, this was a man known for being supremely in control, so that is probably why I found the accident so troubling. His accident shows how vulnerable we all are.

    I check the news every couple of days to see how he is doing, glad to read he is still alive, and hoping to read of signs of an eminent recovery. I hope his family is receiving lots of support through this difficult time.

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