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Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Cochran's - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Cochran's

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RICHMOND, Vt. -

"People have said this is a magical place and I think it is," Barbara Anne Cochran said.

Cochran's ski area was established in 1961, a feat accomplished by Barbara's father.

"My dad especially wanted to find a place in the country where you could put a rope tow in the backyard and that was because we started ski racing by then," she explained.

Barbara and her siblings used the hill to train. Their hard work paid off with a trip Saporra, Japan, for the Winter Olympics.

"In 1972 my older sister Marty was on the Olympic team, my brother Bob and myself. And we went over and to be honest any one of us could have won an event then, and I was lucky enough to win the slalom," Barbara said.

The next generation of Cochran's has placed six family members on the U.S. Ski Team.

Still, some might claim that Cochran's ski area is too small to consistently produce award-winning racers. Barbara says that's not the case.

"This was one of the things that my dad recognized is that you need to be able to get lots and lots of gates in," she said.

Through repetition around the gates, racers improve their technique.

"It works. It just works," Barbara said.

Another benefit to the mountain's small stature-- the family friendly atmosphere. Amy Gifford of Richmond has been taking her kids to Cochran's since they could walk.

"It's a family," she said. "Their new slogan is come join the family and it's really accurate."

Amy's son enjoys the atmosphere, too.

"It's very friendly and it's a lot of fun to ski because there's no pressure at all to do something right the first time and that's really great," Jabes Gifford said.

With last week's rainfall followed by cold temperatures, snow surfaces are firm and fast-- a racer's delight.

Whether racing at Cochran's or learning to ski, prices are kept low, even the homemade chili.

After the death of Barbara's father, the mountain became nonprofit in the late 1990s.

"My parents wanted us to be able to provide skiing and boarding for families of any size and keep it affordable," Barbara said.

The affordable prices, friendly atmosphere and smiling faces-- all attributes that keep generations of Vermonters coming back to Cochran's ski area.

"I do. I love it," Barbara said.

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