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ROYAL SKI CHUM SIDELINED

Schussing down the Swiss ski slopes wasn't the same for Prince Charles this year. A favorite downhill companion was sidelined by a nasty fall.

The prince telephoned Swiss ski instructor Bruno Sprecher in the hospital to wish him well, a newspaper reported Sunday. He has instructed Charles on the slopes for years.

Sprecher could be out of action for at least a year after tearing knee ligaments during a recent skiing trip, the weekly newspaper Sonntags Blick reported.

"I am in great pain," Sprecher told the paper. By his hospital bedside, Sprecher had a large bouquet of flowers sent by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, another frequent visitor to the Swiss ski resorts.

Charles was accompanied on the ski trip by his 12-year-old son, Prince Harry.

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