Australian landslide kills Tahoe ski instructors | SierraSun.com
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Australian landslide kills Tahoe ski instructors

JOELLE BABULA

The bodies of Mike and Mariam Sodergren, the West Shore couple trapped under a landslide in Australia since July 30 have been recovered.

Chris Fellows, the owner of the North American Ski Training Center where Mike was head trainer, has been in close contact with authorities and inspectors on site in Australia for the past several days. He said all 19 bodies, including the Sodergrens, were found yesterday afternoon.

The Sodergrens, from Tahoma, spent the last 17 years of their lives without summer. They were ski instructors in Lake Tahoe during the winters, and then they’d head off to Thredbo, Australia to share their skiing expertise during the summers.

“I used to give her (Mim) a hard time about how she could keep going from winter to winter to winter,” said Judy Lee, a member of the personnel department at Alpine Meadows where Mim was employed. “She just loved to ski.”

Mim and Michael, 41 and 46 respectively, met in Lake Tahoe and were married 10 years ago.

Mim began working for Alpine Meadows as a ski instructor in 1980 with a brief break to Utah where she worked as a children’s snow school supervisor, Lee said.

Mim returned to Alpine Meadows in 1988 and was promoted to ski school supervisor and head of the women’s programs.

Michael worked as a ski instructor at both Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe.

Danielle Ferrari, a Northstar-at-Tahoe ski instructor from Sydney, Australia, first met Mike and Mim seven years ago in Australia. Ferrari was going through ski instructor training at the time, and Mike was her teacher.

A favorite

“He was my favorite (teacher),” she said. “He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. He’s the man for skiing information, he knows it all.”

The Sodergrens were two of the 19 people trapped under the wreckage and debris engulfing Australia’s ski village in Thredbo after a landslide tore through the resort lodges July 30.

Since the disaster, only one individual was found alive, and all other bodies have been recovered.

According to a newspaper article in The Australian, the cause of the landslide may be due to a previously undiscovered mountain spring seeping into the side of the earth.

In some areas, the rubble was 35 feet deep, making search and rescue operations difficult and slow.

Confusion was added to the anguish and grief of the Sodergrens’ family and friends earlier this week when the Associated Press reported the couple’s bodies were recovered Monday.


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