The Vermont Ski & Snowboard Museum hosts a discussion Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. on “How Vermont’s Small Indie Ski Areas are Bucking the Merger Trend.”
The museum, located at 1 S. Main St. in Stowe, is sponsoring a series of discussions about issues surrounding snowsports.
Recently, Vail Resorts — which owns Stowe Mountain Resort — and other major players in the ski industry have been buying up resorts and gaining traction with wide-ranging season passes across all their properties and gaining efficiencies through the depth of the organization.
But many skiers are still drawn to small, stand-alone resorts with individual personalities and idiosyncrasies.
Parker Riehle, a longtime ski industry insider and a museum board member, will moderate the discussion.
On the panel will be Barbara Ann Cochran of Cochran’s Ski Area, Matt Lillard of Mad River Glen, Lindsay DesLauriers of Bolton Valley Resort and Geoff Hatheway of Magic Mountain.
Topics include how these resorts have survived and thrived through good times and bad and what they’ve done to set themselves apart with fiercely loyal skiers and riders amid stiff competition with Vermont’s largest ski resorts.
Vermont ranks as the top winter destination in the East and is the No. 4 ski state in the country, behind only Colorado, California and Utah.
• Barbara Ann Cochran is part of the famous “Skiing Cochrans” family of world champions; they have operated Cochran’s Ski Area since her parents, Mickey and Ginny Cochran, started their backyard ski area in Richmond in 1961. Barbara Ann was a two-time U.S. national champion with three World Cup victories in slalom and giant slalom (with 18 podiums), a silver medal in slalom at the 1970 World Championships and a gold medal in slalom at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan — the first American skier in 20 years to strike gold at the Olympics since Andrea Mead Lawrence in 1952.
• Geoff Hatheway is former marketing and sales director at Magic Mountain; he founded Ski Magic LLC, which bought the ski area in Londonderry, Vt., three years ago with a group of 16 investors committed to bringing back the “magic.” Magic is in the midst of a five-year plan to improve snowmaking, lifts and lodges to create a more accessible, reliable and high-quality skier experience while building on Magic’s soulful community vibe. Skier visits have nearly doubled in the past three seasons.
• Lindsay DesLauriers is president and co-owner of Bolton Valley Resort. She is spearheading a multiyear effort to refresh, modernize and improve the resort’s amenities and infrastructure, and to develop its summer business.
• Matt Lillard has been general manager of Mad River Glen since 2017, moving back to Vermont after five years as general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, Alaska. Earlier, he was assistant general manager at Magic Mountain and worked in marketing at Okemo Mountain Resort.
Museum doors open at 6 and guests are invited to enjoy the exhibits and socialize. The discussion begins at 6:30. Craft beer, wine and cider will be available. A $10 entry donation helps support the museum’s mission to “collect, preserve and celebrate Vermont’s skiing and snowboarding heritage.”