AceShowbiz - Kyle Smaine has passed away at the age of 31. The pro skier - who scooped a gold medal in halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships 2015 - lost his life in an avalanche while skiing in Japan.
Action sports photographer Grant Gunderson took to social media on Sunday, January 29, 2023 to describe the "nightmare" scene. "Yesterday was my absolute worst nightmare scenario," he wrote. "It was supposed to be the last day of the trip so we were just out for a mellow tour to Freeski. As we had one of the best days ever skiing/shooting the day before."
"We had dug a pit and then skied a line in the backcountry. I was exhausted from the last 10 days so after that run I skied down to the base lodge. Kyle and Adam chose to go back up and ski it again. They were at the bottom with a member from another group a long way away from the base of the slope transitioning to skin out."
"In fact, a Japanese party was doing beacon practices at that transition area the previous lap. Every one felt safe in the transition area. A second skier from the other group triggered an avalanche that stepped down into a massive avalanche (2m deep crown) on an adjacent slope. The slope that they had now done two runs on didn't slide (sic)."
Grant went on to explain that all three skiers tried to escape from the avalanche and that, by some "miracle," Adam managed to avoid death despite being buried one-and-half metres deep for 25 minutes, Kyle and the unnamed skier both succumbed to their internal injuries even after receiving medical attention.
He added, "Adam, Kyle and the other skier tried to run. Adam was buried 1.5 meters deep for 25 minutes and is unscathed. That is a miracle. The skier buried next to him died from internal injuries. Kyle was thrown 50 meters by the air blast and buried and killed."
"Another group in the area consisting of two Canadian mountain guides and 4 or 5 emergency doctors / nurses etc as clients performed the rescue. The doctors did everything they could for Kyle and the other skier. Adam and I will be rehashing this for the rest of our lives (sic)."