US Pro Skier Kyle Smaine Dies in Avalanche

'An all around great skier, an all around great, kind person'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2023 1:26 PM CST
US Pro Skier Kylie Smaine Dies in Avalanche
Kyle Smaine competes to win the men's freestyle ski half pipe event at the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Celebrated American freestyle skier Kyle Smaine was one of two men killed in an avalanche at a ski resort in central Japan Sunday. The Lake Tahoe-based skier's father confirmed the death to NBC. Smaine, 31, posted an Instagram video of himself skiing Sunday, praising the "unbelievable snow quality, non-stop storms, and really fun terrain that seems to get better the more exploring you do," People reports. Authorities said five foreigners were engulfed in the avalanche on the eastern slope of Mount Hakuba Norikura Sunday afternoon and two, an American and an Austrian, were found without vital signs, reports Reuters.

Smaine was on a marketing trip, but went for a final run with two other skiers, including Washington-based pro skier Adam Ü and photographer, Ü tells Mountain Gazette. "It was the last run of the last day of our trip. We had no camera gear with us. We were going out for fun," Ü says. He says that after photographer Grant Gunderson went back to the resort, he went for another lap with Smaine and was buried for around 25 minutes after one of two Austrian skiers that joined the group triggered the avalanche. Two doctors who were part of a nearby guided group joined the rescue effort.

In an Instagram post, longtime partner Jenna Dramise revealed that they were married a little over two months ago. "Dear Husband and my whole world, officially married November 18, 2022, which not many people knew about. I’m so incredibly thankful that I got to marry you and have you in my life," she wrote. "You loved skiing more then anyone I’ve ever met. I picked you up hitchhiking in New Zealand 2010 and who would have thought we would be married 13 years later. The best damn years of my life. I know you had the best runs in your life out there in Japan and could never blame you for doing what you loved." Mountain Gazette editor Mike Rogge tweeted: " An all around great skier, an all around great, kind person. He’s the type of ambassador skiing deserved. I’ll miss you, Kyle. Rest easy." (More skiing stories.)

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