Jimmy Cochran comes from a long line of skiers and even a fairly long line of Olympic skiers — so many of them the family is often dubbed “The Skiing Cochrans.” It all started with Jimmy’s grandparents, who built a small ski hill on his farm in Vermont back in 1961. Jimmy was skiing on it at age 3. By the time he was 7, he was racing. Since then the 27-year-old Keene resident (when he’s not traveling) has become one of the top Alpine skiers in the world and, at press time, is competing for a spot on the 2010 Winter Olympics team. If he makes it, it will be his second time at the Olympics. In 2006 he took 12th in the slalom competition.Update: Cochran, along with fellow Granite Staters Bode Miller and Leanne Smith, are officially on their way to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Congratulations!
You’ve got a whole bunch of skiers in your family — is there something in the water?
My grandparents were so passionate about the sport that they built a little ski area in their backyard. The ski area survives as well as their passion.
How many Olympic skiers in your family?
What are family reunions like?
Has it been a struggle to create your own identity in the world of skiing?
I’ve never felt like a big shadow was cast by my dad and aunts. They have always exuded a love for competing. It was contagious. This is why I fell into it — it was darn fun.
You and Bode Miller both hail from N.H. — is there a rivalry?
Sadly, I’m not worthy of a rivalry with Bode. He’s the greatest American in the history of our sport. I’m not quite there yet. Ha ha. Now that Bode is back as a part of our team we see a lot more of him. Whether it’s training on the hill or off, his presence raises the intensity considerably. In a good way. He’s a very positive person (unless self deprecating) and really a model teammate. This may come as a surprise given the villain he’s often made out to be by the media.
What are you thinking as you wait for the start at the top of the course at the Olympics?
When the person in front of me leaves, things start to click. Finally the countdown begins. At about “three” my world gets really small. Those two seconds before I go are the most surreal moments of my life. It’s akin to the instant before you open the first page of an important exam or dialing the number of a girl you really like, then waiting for her to pick up …
Do you get nervous?
Yeah. Definitely. It’s part of the deal, unfortunately.
If you weren’t racing, what would you be doing?
I was knee deep in an engineering degree from UVM when I made the national team. I’m looking forward to finishing up. So, presumably, I’d be out in the real world sitting behind a desk crunching numbers. Hopefully building something cool.