If your last name is Cochran, there are a few things that seem like a given. One is that you will grow up skiing on (and working at) the tiny ski hill in Richmond where Mickey and Ginny Cochran first put a rope tow behind their house in 1961. The other is, come spring, you will help with sugaring: tapping the trailside maples and bottling Slopeside syrup. The third is that you will go to the Olympics.
Mickey and Ginny never went to the Olympics, but they raised four kids who did. Mickey was a star baseball player who once pitched batting practice for Ted Williams. After fighting in World War II and seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge, he returned to Vermont and taught and coached skiing at the University of Vermont.
In 1972, the Cochrans sent three kids to the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan: Marilyn, a World Champion bronze medalist, Barbara Ann and Bobby. Barbara Ann won gold and Bobby took eighth in the downhill.
Then, in 1976, Lindy, the youngest, went to Innsbruck where she finished sixth.
Flash forward a generation. Bobby’s son, Jimmy Cochran, who currently runs and manages Cochran’s Ski Area, raced at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. Lindy’s three children (Tim, Jessica andRobby) have all made the U.S. Ski Team.
And now, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Barbara Ann’s 25-year-old son, has been named to the U.S. Olympic team and is headed to PyeongChang. And there’s an outside chance Robby Kelley, Lindy’s son, will be too,. Kelley, who turned down a spot on the U.S. Team, has been competing on the World Cup on his own Redneck Racing program.
“RCS is coming back strong,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s president Tiger Shaw in early January. In 2012, Cochran-Siegle was on top of the world, winning gold in both the downhill and combined at the Junior World Championships. A year later, at the Worlds he smashed into the third gate, ripping his ACL and MCL. After surgery and rehab, he came back strong in 2014, winning the overall Nor-Am title with a second in the downhill and a third in both Super G and giant slalom.
But the knee was still plaguing him. In 2015, Cochran-Siegle went in for another surgery, this time a more aggressive lateral meniscus and osteochondral allograft transplant that would keep him out of the gates and in rehab for a year. Then, in December 2016 he was back with a vengeance, scoring his best World Cup finish to date: a 10th in alpine combined and then winning the Super G at the U.S. Nationals in March.
In the early part of the season, RCS has been remarkably steady, scoring a 6th in the downhill and 18th in the alpine combined at the World Cup in Wengen on January 12. As of press time, he was the fourth-ranked American in overall points on the World Cup circuit and fourth in giant slalom points.
Based on his World Cup ranking in alpine combined, in early January Cochran-Siegle became the fourth American man to qualify for PyeongChang. The Cochran legacy lives on.
Top photo: Robby Kelly lays it down. Photo courtesy of Susan Theis