| The Downhill Report, December 1996|
J. Richard Steadman has seen it all--and none of it has been pretty. The U.S. Ski Team's top orthopedic surgeon since 1973, Steadman, 59, has repaired everything from frayed tendons to shattered patellae, operating on team members more than 100 times. In fact, his "competitive" career has seen but one failed attempt, on the knee of a U.S. World Cup racer. "He took a twisting fall," Steadman explains, "and the damage was too complex to put the pieces back together." Despite forming lasting friendships with repeat offenders--like legend Steve Mahre, whose gone under Steadman's knife more than ten times--his patience has its limits: "After they hit double-digits, I tell them to retire."