Professional skier Kyle Smaine, who resided and skied in South Lake Tahoe, was killed in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday. He was 31 years old.
On a marketing trip for Ikon Pass and Nagano Tourism, Smaine was free skiing in the Japan backcountry with fellow skier Adam Ü when they decided to embark on a final run. While transitioning their skis to uphill mode, a large avalanche was triggered above them by a group of Austrian skiers.
“We saw it coming,” said Ü to the Mountain Gazette. “We heard the crack. We realized it is a big one. We started running and then we got hit.”
Despite being buried for approximately 25 minutes, Ü was dug out of the snow and was able to hike back to safety. The diggers weren’t able to get to Smaine in time to save him.
Smaine was known as one of the best all-around skiers in Tahoe, sharing his adventures with his dog Wrigley on his popular Instagram page:
We will report more on the event as more information is gathered. Rest in peace, Kyle.