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Dr. Cunningham is the busiest and longest tenured sports medicine surgeon at Vail-Summit Orthopedics and Neurosurgery. He is a US Ski Team Physician and treats professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, helping all athletes get back to their sport and the activities they enjoy.  He specializes in arthroscopic surgeries of the knee and shoulder, in which he repairs complex problems in these joints with minimally invasive techniques. He is one of the busiest ACL surgeons in the Vail Valley. He pioneered ACL repair surgery in the mountains. In this technique, small instruments and anchors are used to arthroscopically repair and save a torn ACL ligament instead of always completely removing the damaged ligament and reconstructing it with a tendon graft.  This groundbreaking ACL repair technique allows a patient to save their original ACL, lose less muscle mass as there is less pain and swelling with surgery, and return to sports in half the time of a normal ACL reconstruction surgery.


Dr. Cunningham is conservative and treats patients without surgery whenever possible. However, if you need surgery, know that you are in great hands. Dr. Cunningham is the sports medicine surgeon that locals and out of town guests know and seek out given his great outcomes and kind and compassionate bedside manner. 


After his orthopedic residency, Dr. Cunningham completed a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, which is regarded by orthopedist as one of the best sports medicine programs in the country. There he worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dr. Cunningham then joined Vail-Summit Orthopedics in 2003. Dr. Cunningham was drawn to this practice given the world class care that was being provided here in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. 


Dr. Cunningham served as the Chief of Surgery at Vail Valley Medical Center for 8 years. His physician colleagues at Vail Valley Medical Center awarded him the Clinical Excellence Award for outstanding orthopedic work using the latest surgical techniques. 


In addition to the US Ski Team, Dr. Cunningham volunteers his time in the community. He gives orthopedic lectures before every ski season to local primary care physicians and physical therapists. He speaks with Ski Patrollers at our ski resorts every year about how to treat various orthopedic fractures and joint injuries. He is the team physician at Vail Christian High school. He provides free high school student physicals before the start of every school year for area high school students. When not working or volunteering, Dr. Cunningham can be found on the sidelines of his kid’s soccer or volleyball games, riding his mountain bike or road bike in the warmer months, or skiing with his kids in the winter months.






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Dr. Richard Cunningham

Knee and Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery, Sports Medicine, Orthopedic Trauma

Dr. Cunningham is a full-service knee and shoulder specialist with particular expertise in ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, meniscus preservation surgery, and shoulder instability surgery.


He is a US Ski Team Physician and works with athletes at all levels to get them back to the sports they enjoy.

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  • ​​Bachelor of Arts in English: Amherst College, Amherst, MA

  • Doctor of Medicine: University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

  • General Surgery Internship: University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT

  • Orthopaedic Surgery Residency: University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT

  • Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 


  • Board Certification: American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

Professional Affiliations

  • ​​American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

  • Arthroscopy Association of North America

  • Colorado Orthopaedic Society

Team Affiliations

  • US Ski Team

  • Vail Christian High School

  • Summit High School

Hospital Affiliations

  • Vail Valley Medical CenterSummit Medical Center

  • Vail Valley Surgery Center 

  • Peak One Surgery Center


  • Hamstring Tensioning in ACL Reconstruction

  • Gait Analysis and Biomechanics of Unicompartmental Arthroplasty of the Knee

  • Fixation of Proximal Humerus Fractures

  • Book Chapter on Shoulder Biomechanics


  • Chief of Surgery, Vail Valley Medical Center

  • Team Physician, US Ski Team  

  • Team Physician, Vail Christian High School 

  • Team Physician, Vail Yeti's Semi Pro Hockey Team

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