Ex-ski world champion Kyle Smaine killed in avalanche
Mourning for a successful winter athlete: Kyle Smaine died in an avalanche in Japan. One of his companions also died in the accident.
World halfpipe champion Kyle Smaine has died in an avalanche accident in Japan. As US media reported, citing his family, the 31-year-old and another man were found by a search and rescue team in central Japan’s Nagano Prefecture with no signs of life. The US freestyle ski team also announced the death of the ski star on social networks.
Smaine was out on a ski tour over the weekend when an avalanche went off a 7,000-foot mountainside. There was heavy snowfall in the area at the time of the accident. The local authorities had therefore issued avalanche warnings.
Photographer Grant Gunderson, who was also on the trip, described the accident as his “worst nightmare” in a post on Instagram. Smaine was thrown about 50 meters by a blast and buried by snow. Another companion was buried in 1.5 meters of snow for 25 minutes but miraculously survived. Gunderson wrote that he will remember the accident for the rest of his life.
A total of four men were hit by the snow masses. According to Japanese police, two of them managed to get to safety.
Avalanche kills ex-halfpipe world champion Kyle Smaine
Two skiers were killed in an avalanche accident in Japan on Sunday. One of them is the American Kyle Smaine, who became world halfpipe champion in 2015. His companion survived under the masses of snow.
The American freestyle skier Kyle Smaine is dead. The 2015 world halfpipe champion was buried by an avalanche in the Japanese prefecture of Nagano on Sunday. According to information from the winter sports blog “Mountain Gazette”, a second skier from Austria died in the accident, but this information has not yet been confirmed.
The accident happened in the unsecured area of the ski resort at Mount Hakuba Norikura. The 32-year-old Smaine was there for several days for advertising shots. On Sunday, however, he drove without a camera accompaniment. Among those on the mountain was the photographer Grant Gunderson, who describes the course of the disaster in an Instagram statement.
According to Gunderson, Smaine and his companion, American freestyle skier Adam Ü, set off again at the end of the day, while Gunderson himself did not go up the mountain. On the descent, they encountered a group of other skiers, one of whom probably triggered the avalanche.
It had snowed heavily the day before
Smaine and two other skiers tried to flee, but had no chance. While Smaine and another freerider died under the masses of snow, Adam Ü could be rescued, although he was buried at a depth of one and a half meters for around 25 minutes. ‘We heard the bang. We started running and then we got hit,” Ü told the Mountain Gazette.
According to the Reuters news agency, the weather service issued an avalanche warning at the time of the accident after it had snowed heavily the previous few days.
Smaine started competing in professional skiing in 2008. In 2015 he became world champion in the halfpipe at Kreischberg in Austria. He also won a World Cup. Most recently, Smaine was mainly on the road as a freeskier, worked on film projects and was an advertising medium for several brands. On Saturday, Smaine released a video of himself skiing in deep snow in Japan.
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