On April 22nd, 2004 Art Devlin of Lake Placid N.Y. passed away after a long bout with cancer. He was 81 years old.
Art was the country’s most famous ski jumper, chosen for five U.S. Olympic Teams. During WW-II, as a Army Air Corps bombardier, he flew 50 missions in Europe, after which he earned his pilot’s wings.*
A local motel owner in Lake Placid, he was also a T.V. commentator for CBS and ABC. Art served on many committees including Vice President of the 1980 Olympic Games Organizing Committee. He was a legend.
Devlin competed at a time when most of the very best ski jumpers in North America had learned their skills in Norway. In addition, organizers of high level competitions regularly reinforced their start lists by importing European stars. In many competitions, Art Devlin was the top U.S. finisher, placing close behind foreign skiers such as Olympic gold medalists Petter Hugsted and Birger Ruud or immigrant stars such as the amazing Alf Engen and the immortal Torger Tokle. Art won the U.S. National Championships in 1946, breaking a string of at least ten foreign-born champions.
Art was chosen for the 1940 U.S. Olympic Team, but those Games were canceled due to World War II. After the war, he qualified for the 1948 Games in St. Moritz but suffered an injury which kept him from competing. Devlin went on to compete it two Olympics, finishing 15th in the 90-meter jump in the 1952 Oslo Games, and 21st at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina, Italy.* He was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1963.
Movie-star handsome, Devlin enjoyed a brief flirtation with Hollywood, but his long lasting media role was as ski jumping color commentator for 21 years on ABC Wide World of Sports. Art loved his country and his hometown and, traveling the world as an athlete and later as a TV personality, he never missed an opportunity to promote Lake Placid.
Donations to the Eastern Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Fund in memory of Art Devlin can be sent to:
8 New John Brown Rd., Lake Placid N.Y. 12946, c/o Evan Bliss: Art Devlin Fund: ESJ, NC Foundation
Note — the material above came from several sources, but a dependable record of Devlin’s accomplishments has been hard to assemble because of substantial differences between different articles and obituary notices. Art was a member of two, or three, or four, or even five Olympic teams (as claimed above), depending on what source we read. ORDA tells us that Devlin was a four-time national champion and this was repeated in several obituaries while others report only his 1946 crown.. During the war, Art was either a pilot or a bombardier, again depending on what source we believe. Art Devlin was a legend, but it appears that the legend continued to grow after he hung up his jumping skis.
*Author James D. Long has told us Art’s war record, and that Art was also chosen for the 1960 Olympic Team, but “he gave up his spot in 1960 to go into the broadcast booth.”