US Skier Kyle Smaine, 31, Dies in Avalanche in Japan

Skier Kyle Smaine died after he was caught in an avalanche in Japan Sunday, his wife, snowboarder Jenna Dramise, confirmed on Facebook Monday. Smaine was a championship professional freestyle skier based in Lake Tahoe, California. He was 31.

Smaine was one of two men found dead after the avalanche, authorities in Nagano told CNN. Police said they were 11 other people hit by the avalanche. Authorities have not released the names of all the deceased yet.

"Dear Husband and my whole world officially married November 18, 2022, which not many people knew about," Dramise wrote on Facebook, alongside a gallery of photos with Smaine. "I'm so incredibly thankful that I got to marry you and have you in my life. You loved skiing more than 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," Dramise continued. "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."

Mountain Gazette photographer Grant Granderson called the avalanche his "absolute worst nightmare" in an emotional Instagram post. After one of the "best days ever" of photography and skiing, Granderson and Smaine were on the last day of their trip. There were two other skiers on the trip, including Glacier, Washington-based skier Adam Ü. It was a "miracle" that Ü survived unscathed after he was buried 1.5 meters deep for 25 minutes, Granderson wrote. Smaine was "thrown 50 meters by the air blast and buried and killed," Granderson wrote.

"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," Granderson continued. "Adam and I will be rehashing this for the rest of our lives."

Ü told Mountain Gazette they didn't take cameras with them, as they just wanted to have fun on the last run of the last day of their trip. Smaine and Ü were joined by an Austrian group. One of the Austrian skiers triggered the slide. "We saw it coming," Ü told the magazine. "We heard the crack. We realized it is a big one. We started running and then we got hit." Two doctors were part of a nearby guided group and tried to help. They performed CPR on the Austrian skier but were unable to revive him. The Austrian skier's name has not been released.

Smaine posted his final Instagram video on Jan. 28, a body-camera clip of him skiing set to Lizzo's "Good as Hell." "This is what brings me back to Japan each winter. Unbelievable snow quality, non-stop storms, and really fun terrain that seems to get better than more exploring you do," Smaine captioned the post.

Smaine is survived by his wife. He was a competitive skier for 10 years and won a gold medal in the halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in 2015. He retired from competitive skiing in 2018.