Mickey and Ginny Cochran bought a home in Richmond, Vermont in 1961 so their family could ski. Not on the slopes of Stowe, Sugarbush or Mad River Glen, but rather in their own backyard. On the hillside behind their house, the couple carved out a few trails and installed a rope tow for their kids and neighbors to enjoy.
Over the years, local children and families learned to ski at Cochran’s hill, and Mickey and Ginny’s children became exceptional skiers. Marilyn, Barbara Ann, Bob and Lindy — known as “The Skiing Cochrans” — all made the United States ski team and each raced in the Olympics. At the 1972 Winter Games in Japan, Barbara Ann won a gold medal in slalom.
Beginning in the 1960s, the Cochran family developed innovative and affordable educational and recreational programs to help bring the community together. Many successful high school, college and World Cup racers got their start at Cochran’s hill. Cochran’s Ski Area has produced several United States ski team members, and four second-generation Cochran family members were on the U.S. ski team in 2005.
But skiing at Cochran’s isn’t just about racing and Olympic dreams. It’s a place where preschoolers and youngsters learn to ski with their parents. After Mickey’s death in 1998, Cochran’s was established as the nation’s first non-profit ski area to continue the family’s legacy of providing access to winter recreation for local children and families. Cochran’s Ski Area, which moved from its original spot behind the family’s home several years ago, now has more terrain to teach beginners. Cochran’s remains a popular ski area for kids as there are more than 700 students enrolled in after-school programs.
Next winter, we’re planning on participating in Cochran’s Ski Tots program with Phoebe. The program is led by Olympic gold medalist Barbara Ann Cochran, who instructs parents on how to teach their preschoolers to ski. I can’t wait to introduce Phoebe to skiing in the same small town where generations of local kids learned their very first turns.