When Peter Patterson went for his daily 25-mile bike ride last summer wearing his full-length cast, he started a lot of Boulder, Colo., motorists. The cast supported Pete’s left femur, which he broke running giant slalom in the U.S. National Championships in Lake Placid last February, but it had plastic joints at the knee and ankle so that the spunky ski racer could train during the summer with hopes of racing this season. “About the only thing I can’t do with this cast is run.” he said.
Pete Patterson knows enough about broken bones to appreciate advancements like hinged casts. Although he has had outstanding results as a ski racer in all three events, his career has been plagued with injuries. In the 1971 Junior Nationals at Mammoth Mountain, he broke his back in the downhill. He recovered to race in 1973 as a member of the U.S. talent squad, but broke both bones in his lower leg at the Roche Cup downhill in Aspen that season. The bones were mending nicely by September 1973, but an unlucky kick in a soccer game broke them again, putting him out for the winter of 1974.
He was named to the Can-Am team in 1975, went to the Olympic in 1976, and had a good 1977 season on the World Cup circuit. In the World Championships at Garmisch last year, Pete placed eight in the giant slalom and won a bronze medal in the combined.
Last summer, the 21-year-old racer took his first college class – a geology course at the Univ. of Colorado – while he used the weight machines in the CU football training room to strengthen his broken leg and the knee of his other leg, from which the outer cartilage had been removed. He also climbed hills and rode his bike, hoping to be ready for competition by late fall.
Head men’s coach Harald Schoenhaar describes Pete as the most diligent trainer he has ever seen. “You have to push everyone on the team once in awhile.” Schoenharr says, “but you always have to tell Pete Patterson to slow down.”
For Pete Patterson, the road to the Olympics has been at times painful.
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