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The Cochran Family Makes Maple Syrup And Ski Racers.

Slopeside Sugar House run by ski racing’s famous Cochran family. Credit: Cochran Family

There are a lot of Vermonters and others in the ski racing world who could tell you a lot more about the famous Cochran Family of Richmond, VT.  I have friends who know them personally and tell the tales of the first rope tow that Mickey Cochran built in his back yard with the vision of a community ski facility.  He and his wife Ginny ultimately had four children who all made the U.S. Ski Team and had outstanding success including a  gold Olympic medal for Barbara Ann and a World Cup GS Title for Marilyn.

World Cup GS Champ Marilyn Cochran helps out at Slopeside. Credit: Vermont Sports Hall Of Fame

My friend Mark Hutchinson remembers the time that Mickey’s jacket caught on fire because of all the oil and engine grease embedded in the fabric as a result of countless hours maintaining the tows at Cochran’s.  Today, Cochran’s is a legendary ski training center for young ski racers all over Vermont with coaching and operational duties falling to the Cochran family, relatives, and grandchildren.  They are currently a non-profit ski area with training and races held each winter.  Donations are gratefully accepted at www.cochranskiarea.com/donate But that is not what the subject of this article is.  I am talking pure Vermont Maple Syrup of which I am a true connoisseur or as my friends say, a “common sewer”.

I have this habit of taking pure Vermont Maple Syrup, heated, in a jar when my wife and son and I  go to breakfast.  They look at me with disdain, but I will not use anything else on my hot cakes, waffles, or oatmeal.  I am always on the hunt for the recently re-named “Golden Delicate” syrup that is elusive.

With the re-naming of the descriptions of different grades of syrup by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association  (www.vermontmaple.org) ,  there has been some confusion as to what is actually the top syrup for consumption.  Personally, I like the lightest syrup currently described as “Golden Delicate”.

Recently, four of the grandchildren—all cousins—of Cochran decent, decided to enter the maple syrup space in Vermont by constructing a timber frame sugar house close to the ski area.  This has expanded since 2010 to an operation of 22,000 taps and PVC collection lines that all feed the operation in the sugar shack.

Maple syrup from Vermont. Hmmmm. Credit: Slopeside

Slopeside Syrup has become the standard bearer for all Vermont syrup, and I am so happy that I found them.  One day, while perusing the Durfee family refrigerator in Lake Tahoe, I came across a bottle of this delectable treat.  I asked Eric Durfee about it as he is a native Vermonter and friend of Marilyn Cochran.  He told me about the operation and how he and Marilyn converse about the old days of ski racing and training to this day.  Turns out that Marilyn helps out occasionally with the syrup operation.  When I ordered several bottles online and told her I was a friend of Eric’s, she wrote me a nice personalized note that she packed in with my order.  That little bit of customer service and kindness will always make me a Slopeside Syrup fan for life.  You should be as well.

Go to www.slopesidesyrup.com, and you will see ordering information as well as some history of the family.  Not often that a World Cup GS Champion will oversee your order.  Take it from me, the “Golden Delicate” is nothing like you have ever tasted before.  Most times when I have ordered the formerly labeled “Grade A Delicate”, I got something less with more of an amber color and traditional taste.  However, the Slopeside Syrup product is truly that elusive grade which I know and love and bring with me to every breakfast.

So treat yourself, buy Slopeside Syrup and support Cochran’s Ski Area for the kids in Vermont.  Not all of them can go to the elite ski academies because of cost. But they can come to Cochran’s, get world class coaching, and immerse themselves in a culture of champions.  Ski racing, and maple syrup.  What a combination.

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