Soderman siblings have special bond

Karly Ratzenberger

Sophomore Erik Soderman and senior Marie-Helen Soderman were born in Njurunda, Sweden to a family of skiers.

The Soderman siblings have carried their family tradition on to the Wildcat ski team and made their mark on the GLIAC and NCAA.

Erik earned the titles of All-American and National Champion with his first place finish in the men’s freestyle race at the NCAA skiing championships. He finished the race with a time of 25:20.2, which put him 25 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.

Erik also earned the Central Region men’s Most Outstanding Athlete award for his performance in the 2011-12 season.

Marie-Helen won the title of All-American in the championships with her 10th-place finish in the women’s 5K freestyle race. She finished with a time of 15:10.5. Her performance this season earned her the region’s Most Outstanding Athlete honor.

Erik said he thought the season went very well and the weather attributed to the team’s ability to be successful.

“We were pretty lucky with the snow, considering the fact that a lot of other teams around this area have had almost no snow to practice on,” Erik said. “We have had snow pretty much the whole season so that has been really good for us.”

Marie-Helen said the team has spent a lot of this year improving and it has really paid off.

“The team in general has had a lot of development this year,” Marie-Helen said. “We really have a lot of fun.”

The Soderman siblings said the team is very close, and the amount of camaraderie paired with the team’s drive for success is what made the season so positive for the ’Cats.

“The team in general is really my favorite part of the being a part of the program,” Erik said. “To be excited for it every day and be excited to meet the people that are going to be there is a huge advantage.”

Marie-Helen said one of the best parts about being on NMU’s ski team is the fact that the team has a lot of fun together.

“Everyone is really serious at practice and focused on what we should do but as soon as we are done we are joking around and having a good time,” Marie-Helen said. “The fact that we are both guys and girls balances it out as well.”

Erik and Marie-Helen said coming to NMU was a no-brainer for them. A family friend attended NMU prior to Marie-Helen and convinced the pair that it would be a good match for them.

Marie-Helen said the transition from Sweden to Marquette was not too difficult. Erik said Marquette is much like the town in Sweden in which they would have attended school, so it was an easy move.

“The language barrier was a bit difficult and some parts of the culture as well,” Marie-Helen said. “Just the fact that Marquette is a pretty small town and has the same kind of natural surroundings makes it easier than if we came to a huge town however.”

Erik and Marie-Helen’s father was a skier, so naturally, skiing was a family talent.

“We both have been skiing since we were really little,” Marie-Helen said.

Racing also became second nature for the Sodermans when the reached the age in which they could compete.

“We started skiing and really didn’t question it when it came to racing,” Erik said.

The Soderman siblings said they started skiing for a club in their neighborhood when they were around the age of eight.

“We went to practice every Tuesday and maybe skied twice a week with the kids in the neighborhood,” Marie-Helen said. “The environment of being in the club and being there every week was really fun, I think the most fun was to pack your bag and shower afterwards, it was really a social thing more than anything.”