Saturday, April 1, 2023

World halfpipe champion killed by avalanche

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The freestyle scene mourns: The American Kyle Smaine (32†) is dead. The 2015 halfpipe world champion in Kreischberg (Austria) was buried by an avalanche in Nagano, Japan, on Sunday. In addition to the 32-year-old, two other skiers died in the accident.

Smaine, who was most recently on the road as a freeskier and worked as an advertising medium, has been in Japan for the past few days filming on Mount “Hakuba Norikuba”. On the day of the accident, the 32-year-old drove down the slope with a buddy without a cameraman.

Photographer Grant Gunderson is also in Japan, but he doesn’t go with the crew. After the accident, he described the course of events on Instagram: Smaine and his colleague (Adam Ü) made their way up one last time towards the end of the day. Then the American and his buddy meet a group of other skiers, one of whom starts the avalanche.

“Adam, Kyle and another skier tried to run away. Adam was buried under a 1.5 meter thick blanket of snow for 25 minutes and was unharmed – a miracle, the other two died,” the photographer describes the accident.

As the Reuters news agency reported after the accident, there was an avalanche warning at the time of departure because there had been a lot of fresh snow before. A few hours before his death, the American made a post on Instagram about the heavy snowfall. “It’s what brings me back to Japan every winter. Incredible snow quality, non-stop storms and really good terrain.»

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