Beltrametti paraplegic following fall: Swiss federation
VAL-D'ISERE, France, Dec 8 AFP|Published: Sunday December 9, 1:09 PM

Swiss skier Silvano Beltrametti has been left paralysed from the waist down after a horrific high speed crash in a World Cup race today, Switzerland's ski federation confirmed.

The skiing body said in a statement that the 22-year-old Beltrametti had suffered fractures to his sixth and seventh vertebrae and internal haemorrhaging in the fall earlier today.

Beltrametti was airlifted to hospital in Grenoble after he lost control and crashed through safety netting at 100kmh in the men's downhill race.

The skier was in the hospital's intensive care unit and was undergoing further tests. Swiss officials said the skier was conscious and was aware of his injuries.

Beltrametti ploughed through a safety net at around 100 kph about 1 minute 28 seconds into the race. He had about 30 seconds left in his run when tragedy struck.

Marc Waelti the Swiss ski team spokesman, issued a statement saying that Beltrametti was paralysed from the waist down after the injury to the spinal cord around the sixth and seventh vertebrae. Beltrametti also had internal haemorrhaging.

Earlier, Harry Sundereggar, the Swiss ski team chief, said Beltrametti's helmet was heavily damaged during the crash.

Jean-Claude Fritsch, the director of the Val d'Isere Club des Sports which organises the race, said a police investigation was underway.

"As far as we are concerned, all the safety measures required by the FIS (International Ski Federation) were put into place where the accident happened," said Fritsch.

"A safety net was installed along with plastic banners."

Beltrametti was leading after the second intermediate time, two-thirds of the way down the course, before losing control around a curve.

Fritsch showed reporters a slow motion replay of the crash.

It showed Beltrametti losing his balance after a bump heading into the curve. He then lost control and slid, his skis cutting a hole through the net and the banners.

The race was won by Stephan Eberharter of Austria in a time of 1 minute 59.89 seconds.

"It was a difficult day for many reasons - technical as well as psychological. The accident, the long wait at the start. We knew something bad had happened," Eberharter said.