THE world’s most powerful woman will be forced to lie low for the first month of 2014 after cracking her pelvis in a skiing accident.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has been forced to cancel a series of international engagements after sustaining the injury on a holiday in the Swiss Alps.
After falling while travelling at low speeds while cross-country skiing, the 59-year-old at first assumed she had suffered bruising to her left-rear pelvic area.
However, a visit to a Berlin doctor on Friday revealed that she had fractured a bone.
Officials in Germany yesterday sought to play down the accident, insisting that the veteran cross-country skier was able to carry out her work as normal, including presiding over cabinet and government meetings.
It is not known exactly when Ms Merkel was injured, and details of the accident remained thin on the ground yesterday. She left before Christmas for the ski resort of Engadin near St Moritz in eastern Switzerland, a destination her family have visited for several years.
Spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the chancellor fell “at low speed” but was unable to say whether another person was involved.
He said: “She suffered serious bruising in connection with a partial fracture on her left posterior pelvic ring. We understand she was going at slow speed on a cross-country ski course when the accident occurred.”
Following confirmation of the fracture to her pelvis, Ms Merkel cancelled a visit to Warsaw set for tomorrow, as well as a meeting in Berlin the following day with Xavier Bettel, the new prime minister of Luxembourg.
However, Ms Merkel – named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in eight of the past ten years – can walk with crutches and is expected to attend the first cabinet meeting of the new coalition government she leads tomorrow. It is expected she will be forced to rest for three weeks, working from home.
Mr Seibert added: “It goes without saying that, as Chancellor, she is capable of acting as well as communicating fully.”
At the time Ms Merkel left for her break in Switzerland, gossip magazine Bunte claimed the chancellor had used the same pair of cross-country skis for more than 20 years, and quoted the manufacturer urging her to buy a new pair.
“After about ten years, our skis noticeably lose their tension,” a spokesman for the firm is reported to have said.
Two days before Christmas, photographs showed Ms Merkel on the slopes of Engadin, flanked by two bodyguards. It is understood that her accident took place soon after the pictures were taken.
Dr Jörg Ansorg, from the Professional Association of German Surgeons, said yesterday that without knowing the extent of the fracture, he could not assess how long it would take for Ms Merkel to make a full recovery.
He said: “A bruise does particularly hurt. It hurts with every movement… [but] this kind of injury can be treated with medication, fortunately. As for the incomplete fracture, it is somewhat unclear what that means. Either there is something broken or not. It could, for example, be a hairline crack. But this is purely speculative.”
News of Ms Merkel’s injury comes days after Michael Schumacher’s life-threatening skiing accident in France. She was among those to offer support to the German sporting hero.