Cochran’s ski area in Richmond, Vermont—the first non-profit ski area in the United States—is a tiny hill by ski resort standards. It has around 350 feet of vertical served by a rope tow and T-bar. This locals’ hill, however—started fifty years ago by Micky and Ginny Cochran—is where most kids from north central Vermont learn to ski. And it’s produced generations of Olympic medalists, world cup racers, and more than its share of US Ski Team members.
Now, it’s producing another win—Untapped maple energy foods.
UnTapped is a collaboration between the Cochran cousins—Jim, Tim, Roger, and Doug—and pro cyclist Ted King. In 2010, the cousins started Slopeside Syrup on the ski area their grandfather had started, collecting sap from the maples lining the edge of the slopes and boiling it into syrup in a sugar shack they built near the base of the ski area. When King approached them with the idea to make pure maple energy foods, it resonated with the maple syrup making athletes.
“The idea came to me when I was riding in Vermont, and I stopped at a general store to refuel,” says King. “When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a syrup display. I bought the smallest bottle and stuffed it in my jersey. It was it delicious and easy to digest.”
It makes sense.
Research shows that pure maple syrup has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties. It also has healthy trace minerals like zinc, thiamine, manganese, and calcium. What it doesn't have are any artificial colors, flavorings, sweeteners, or preservatives. Pure maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than rice bran and other syrups used in energy shots—that means less of a sugar spike for an athlete sucking down a maple packet mid ride, run, or race—but still delivers instant energy. And, while natural foods don’t always taste better, this one does, with or without a pancake or waffle underneath.
It’s also good for Vermont.
“Making syrup, and producing Untapped is a way for us to tie ourselves to the land, to the place,” says Jim Cochran, one of the cousin partners in Slopeside and Untapped. “It gives us a way to make a living, interact with the ski area in a symbiotic way—and keep the land open.”
The magic of maple syrup for athletes is something the Cochrans have known about for years—they’ve all taken tugs off a jug of golden or dark deliciousness for ski day energy since they were tots. Now they’re sharing it with any maple lover who needs a portable energy food.
Untapped hit the market less than a year ago. Its first two products are maple shots, 100% pure certified organic maple syrup in gel packets, and maple stroopwaffles. In the fall of 2015, it received a $50,000 grant from the USDA to develop a 100% maple flavored and sweetened gummy style energy snack. Untapped plans to introduce their latest maple goodness this spring.
And, by the way, it’s not just for working out. The maple shots are great for sweetening your coffee, and the waffles make an excellent afternoon snack.