German Chancellor Angela Merkel cracked her pelvis during a skiing accident in the Swiss Alps and will have to cut back on her work schedule for the next three weeks, her spokesman said Monday.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the chancellor suffered what she first thought was just a bruise to her left rear pelvic area while cross-country skiing in southeast Switzerland last month. But doctors later determined it was an "incomplete" bone fracture that will require her to rest for three weeks, he said.
"The doctors' orders are to lie down," Seibert told reporters. In response, Merkel cancelled a Wednesday visit to Warsaw, Poland, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called off his Thursday trip to Berlin.
Merkel, 59, had been skiing "at low speeds" when her fall occurred, Seibert said. He was unable to say if another person was involved.
She will continue to preside over Cabinet and government meetings, using a walking aid to get around, he added.
Last week, Merkel sent her wishes for a speedy recovery to German Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, who suffered a serious head injury while downhill skiing in France. Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma at Grenoble University Hospital and doctors said Monday he is still in critical but stable condition.
Experts say cross-country skiing is much less dangerous than downhill. Cross-country trails are mostly flat and the sport is more about endurance than speed.
"Without wanting to play down what happened to Mrs. Merkel, the chances of injury in cross-country skiing are slim compared to downhill," said Michael Berner of Germany's Foundation for Ski Safety. "Still, anyone who does cross-country skiing should learn to do it properly first and have a certain level of fitness."
The accident happened around Christmas during Merkel's annual ski trip to Switzerland's Engadin Valley, which includes well-known ski resorts such as St. Moritz.