Kyle Smaine, Pro Freestyle Skier, Dead at 31

Smaine was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Japan.

The ski world has lost a shining star. 

Kyle Smaine, a freestyle skier who won gold at the Kreischberg 2015 FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships, has died. The athlete was 31 years old. 

Kyle was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Japan, action sports photographer Grant Gunderson recounted in an Instagram post shared on Sunday, calling it his "absolute worst nightmare scenario." Kyle was purportedly in Japan on a marketing trip for Ikon Pass and Nagano Tourism, the Mountain Gazette reported

"It was supposed to be the last day of the trip so we where just out for a mellow tour to Freeski. As we had one of the best days ever skiing / shooting the day before," Grant wrote. "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 [Ü] 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. Adam, Kyle and the other skier tried to run."

Continued Grant, "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," he concluded. 

Adam shared the news on his own Instagram Story, telling followers, "You might as well hear it from me."

"RIP @kylesmaine," he wrote. "Your stoke and enthusiasm were just what this old guy needed."

Kyle had been chronicling the trip on social media, posting footage of his skiing to Instagram. "This is what brings me back to Japan each winter," he wrote in his final post before his untimely death. "Unbelievable snow quality, non-stop storms, and really fun terrain that seems to get better then [sic] more exploring you do."

His wife, snowboarder Jenna Dramise, mourned his death in a tribute shared online Sunday. "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. I do wish I could tell you that one secret I always had, that I loved you. It never really was a secret because I said it at least 10 times a day to you. I can’t wait to see you again. Tonight I hope to ride some pow or bikes with you in my dreams. Love your Wife."