Event News

Gone too soon

R.I.P. Kyle Smaine (1991-2023)

By: Ethan Stone January 30, 2023

The Downdays team is saddened to report the passing of American skier Kyle Smaine, who was killed in an avalanche in Japan on 29 January, 2023.

As first reported by American outdoor publication Mountain Gazette, Smaine was on a trip to Japan with photographer Grant Gunderson and snowboarder Adam Ü, when Ü and Smaine were struck by an avalanche released on a neighboring by a different group of skiers.

According to Mountain Gazette, both Smaine and Ü as well as one of the other skiers was buried in the slide. Ü was buried under 1.5 meters for approximately 25 minutes before being recovered, and "miraculously" survived unharmed. Smaine, as well as the other skier, did not survive.

The avalanche occurred in a backcountry area near Tsugaike ski resort in Hakuba, on the main island of Honshu. With its steep terrain and deep snowpack, Hakuba is a favorite destination for international skiers.

Japan is currently experiencing a major revival in foreign ski tourism after relaxing pandemic restrictions for the first time in two years.

Kyle Smaine on a trip to Bad Gastein, Austria in 2019.

At 31 years old, Smaine was a well-loved skier within the scene, a former halfpipe professional who always showed his own unique, often irreverent, and always enjoyable take on the sport. After retiring from the halfpipe, Smaine kept up his presence in the ski world as a go-getting backcountry and freeride shredder.

Smaine will be sorely missed. We send our deepest condolences to his friends and family.

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A post shared by Grant Gunderson (@grant_gunderson)

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A post shared by Adam U (@adamcu280)