Ski Pacific: In Memory

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For the past seven years,Wednesdays have been Women's Edition days at Alpine Meadows, Calif. Watching a group of grandmothers gamely follow ski instructor Mariam Sodergren off the groomed, across a steep traverse and down a field of crud-covered bumps quickly made it clear that the Wednesday regulars gathered for much more than mere instruction. The women came for Mariam (Mim) Sodergren and her unique brand of impassioned, motivational enthusiasm. If there was one thing the 41-year-old Sodergren loved more than skiing, it was passing along that love to others.

Mariam and her husband, Mike Sodergren, 47, were among the 18 people killed July 30 in Thredbo, Australia, when a landslide tore through Thredbo's ski resort village and demolished two staff lodges. For the past 17 years, Mim and Mike taught skiing year-round, spending their winters in Lake Tahoe and their "summers" in Australia.

Mike, who worked at Park City, Squaw Valley and most recently at Northstar-at-Tahoe, was low-key with a ready smile and a storehouse of know-how. "There was no person who had more love and passion for the sport than Mike," remembered Greg Felsch, director of the Alpine Meadows Ski School. "Who else would spend 17 continuous years in endless winter?"

Mim developed innovative, specialized ski programs for women and children in both Australia and the United States. "Mariam and Mike were exemplary role models of true dedication and commitment to the ski instruction profession," said Felsch. "It is my sincere hope that their spirit and passion for our sport will continue within all of us."

One thing's for certain: The Wednesday Women's Edition regulars at Alpine Meadows plan to persevere. "It's going to take a concerted effort," said one Lake Tahoe local. "But Mariam would expect us to carry the torch for her and we plan to do just that."