Full name: Arthur Matthew "Art" Longsjo, Jr.
Born: October 23, 1931 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 16, 1958 in Burlington, Vermont, United States
Affiliations: Leominster Recreation Club
Country: United States
Sport: Speed Skating, Cycling
Art Longsjo started out as a speed skater in his native Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but moved to San Francisco in the early 1950s for one year, where he started cycling. After returning to Fitchburg he worked at the General Electric plant and began competing in cycling, while continuing his speed skating career. He won the 1953 state cycling championship, despite a leaky tire he had developed while riding for 1½ hours to get to the meet, as he had no car. His first major victory came in 1954 in a 170-mile road race from Québec City to Montréal, for which he was named the Canadian Cyclist of the Year.
In 1956 Longsjo made the Winter Olympic team for speed skating despite not being able to compete in the Eastern Olympic Trials because of a sprained knee he sustained while training for the event. The USOC granted him the waiver to the final trials because he had won 9 of 11 national-level events in 1954-55. Longsjo’s speed skating efforts in Cortina d’Ampezzo were hampered when he developed the flu shortly before his 5,000 metre event, in which he placed 40th. That summer, Longsjo won almost every cycling race he entered, including the Canadian road race when he launched a single-man breakaway over the steep Mount Savage climb with 80 miles remaining in the race, and he was never caught. He made the Olympic cycling team by finishing second in the road race time trial, although he was then placed in the team pursuit event. By competing in cycling in Melbourne in 1956, Longsjo became the first American, and thru 2010, the only one, to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year.
After breaking a leg and missing the 1957 season, Longsjo dominated the American cycling scene in 1958, winning virtually every race, including the Tour du St. Laurent stage race in Canada, the prestigious Tour of Somerville, and another win in the Québec-Montréal race. After that race, he began the drive back to Fitchburg with a friend driving while he slept in the passenger seat. Late in the evening, on a wet, winding road in northern Vermont, the driver swerved and crashed into a utility pole. Art Longsjo died from injuries sustained in the accident. In his honor, his hometown began a cycling race which remains one of the top races in the United States. It began in 1960 as the Longsjo Memorial Race, later renamed to the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic in 1980, although it is often called simply the Tour of Fitchburg.
Personal Bests: 500 – 45.9 (1956); 1500 – 2:22.1 (1956); 5000 – 8:40.0 (1956).
|1956 Winter||24||Cortina d'Ampezzo||Speed Skating||Men's 5,000 metres||United States||USA||40|
|1956 Summer||25||Melbourne||Cycling||Men's Team Pursuit, 4,000 metres||United States||USA||2 h8 r1/4|
|1956 Winter||24||Cortina d'Ampezzo||Speed Skating||United States||Final Standings||40||8:40.0||22.8||1:01.5||1:40.0||2:19.2||2:59.0||3:39.8||4:21.3||5:03.8||5:47.1||6:30.7||7:14.2||7:57.9|