In 1961 Mickey Cochran built a rope tow on an old hillside farm in Richmond. His vision continued a tradition of community ski areas in Vermont.
Mickey and his wife Ginny moved their family from Burlington to a farmhouse at the bottom of a 150-acre hillside farm on the banks of the Winooski River in Richmond. They put in a few ski trails and a 300-foot rope tow to provide mid-week ski training for their four children - Marilyn, Barbara Ann, Bobby, and Lindy. Millions of laps up and down the "hill behind the house" provided a first rate ski racing foundation that led to careers including World Cup wins, World Cup titles, World Championship medals, and Barbara Ann's 1972 Olympic Gold.
Even after the kids had all grown up, Mickey and Ginny still loved running their backyard rope tow, and they decided to make it their full time occupation. Mickey retired from his engineering job at General Electric, and carved four new trails and installed three more lifts. Ginny ran the ski school and snack bar, and Mickey ran the lifts and made snow using his ingenious though paltry gravity fed snowmaking system. They'd count quarters together at night. It was a "mom and pop" operation in the truest sense. The pair toiled through decades that saw community supported ski areas in Vermont all but disappear.
Mickey passed away in 1998 at the age of 76, and Ginny knew the ski area had to have help to survive. A non-profit was created, a board of directors elected, and a mission laid forth: provide affordable skiing and race training to kids and families. Ginny's forward thinking set in place a system that would keep all those countless smiling rosy cheeked kids learning to ski in her backyard. She succumbed to cancer in 2005, but her and Mickey's legacy lives on. Since then a new generation – ten of Mickey and Ginny's grand-children – have gone from the same slopes that their parents plied, to their own Olympic, collegiate, and national success. The ski area is flourishing with a racing team that produces some of the best junior skiers in Vermont.
For more information or to make a tax deductible donation, visit www.cochranskiarea.com/donate
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