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Ginny Cochran with grandson Jimmy



Ginny Cochran ’50 had no problem watching her kids and grandkids speed down icy slopes at breakneck speeds. But jumps made her nervous, and were forbidden at Cochran’s, the tiny ski area she and husband Mickey ’48, who passed away in 1998, built on the slopes behind their Richmond, Vt., farmhouse.

This was still unknown to me one December morning when the upper mountain hadn’t opened yet. To entertain the kids, I’d built a small kicker off to the side of the trail and was leaning on my shovel watching them fly off it when Ginny skidded to a stop beside me. The kids disappeared, like birds before a storm. Ginny eyed my bump of snow. But she said nothing of it. We chatted, and she skied off, probably to hector some hapless area employee.

“She didn’t make you knock it down?” asked Leif, age 7, when it was safe to return. He was incredulous.

“She must really like you.”

Ginny, who died late this winter, did like me. She had an easy, warm way of letting me know it, and I was never more honored by anyone’s friendship. By turns loving and irascible, she was the matriarch of what is arguably the greatest family of American skiers, including UVM stars past and present. Her house, crowded with trophies, was the ski area’s original base lodge. The current lodge is decorated with race bibs from the sport’s hallowed World Cup venues, including a few new ones worn last year by grandson Jimmy. Beneath them, the worn, sodden carpet and battered picnic tables are daily strewn with the bread crusts and forgotten mittens of families learning to love skiing the way Ginny did.

Losing Ginny leaves a huge hole at Cochran’s. But those of us whose lives she touched will find a way to keep it going — for our own kids and those who will follow. And we’ll honor Ginny the best way we know: at top speed, right on the edge of control.

— Joe Cutts ’84 is deputy editor of SKI Magazine