At 53 Paralympian Chris Devlin-Young of Campton Wins Gold at X Games

After a devastating injury, Chris Devlin-Young took up alpine skiing (“I got my life back”) and ever since he’s been going for the gold.

The 53-year-old Campton resident has medaled four times at the winter Paralympics — two were gold — and this year he grabbed yet another gold at the X Games Aspen in January. We caught up with Chris just before he headed to Aspen.

You’ve been at the winter Paralympics since 1994 when you won a gold in your first year. You’ve won a bunch of medals since then. What keeps you competing? I really like getting older and still winning. It doesn’t hurt that I am an adrenaline junkie.

Do the X Games and the Paralympics share any characteristics? Not really, the X Games has prize money.

What do you like to do when you’re home in NH? Beside skiing, that is. I am proud to work with my wife Donna as her Theatre Under The Stars goes into its 10th season. It is a summer stock Shakespeare theatre in Waterville Valley. I build the stages and maintain the theatre’s house, as well as anything else that may need doing.

Paralympic competition seems uniquely challenging. Was there some factor or influence in your life before your injury that prepared you for it? Every moment, good and bad, of an athlete’s life prepares them for competition and I am no exception.

I understand you build “wheelchair-accessible” furniture. What’s that? Life in a wheelchair is not easy. Every aspect presents new challenges and I am trying to help reduce some of those challenges. Wheelchair-accessible furniture are pieces that have been built or modified to fit the user. Each of us is different and when you add a wheelchair to the mix just reaching something off the top of a dresser can become a frustrating enterprise. So with a little help, some of the day-to-day life at home becomes easier with furniture that fits.

You are 53 and still going for medals. Do you get tired of people starting sentences with “At your age …”? Since this is the first time anyone has asked “At your age …” I would say “How’s it feel to get beat by someone twice your age?”

I see that the other NH person in the games is Scotty Lago. Do you guys hang out with each other? We travel to some of the same places during the season but at different times. X is the one time we compete in the same place.

By the time this issue comes out the X Games will be done. Care to predict how you’ll do? No one gets in at the start and does not want to win. I am no exception. I’ll ski fast, take chances and do my best to win my second X Games gold.

What’s next for you? Any goals you still want to achieve? It is very important to me that I give back the gift that has been given to me. Sports and skiing in particular are what turned my life around. When I was introduced to alpine skiing, I  got my life back. One that I thought was taken away by my disability. I’m going to share this gift of freedom with as many people as possible.

Categories: Q&A