Pro skier killed in avalanche

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:10 AM CST
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(KMAX/KOVR) - A professional skier from Lake Tahoe was reportedly killed in an avalanche in Japan.

According to CBS News, American pro freeskier Kyle Smaine, 31, and another man died while backcountry skiing at a resort Monday in Tokyo.

Friends said Smaine was a rare person on the ski hill and away from it.

“To me, he was the best skier in the world,” said his friend Walter Wood.

“He’s just so humble, so down to earth,” said his friend Dane Shannon.

Maddie Bowman won Olympic gold in 2014 and says Smaine was there for all the ups and downs.

“Kyle loved the people around him, even though we’re all flawed, you know, and he was like a brother to me,” Bowman said.

Becca Gardner, who grew up with him, remembers a couple of things in particular.

“He very much shines on the dance floor, and he makes those around him shine,” Gardner said.

They said his passing may take some time to process, but there’s plenty each of them learned from him.

“An ability for him just to have that perspective on life, that larger view, and that’s what I’m gonna always, you know, take away,” Wood said.

And a lot that each will take with them as well.

“Kyle loved everyone around them for who they were, and he showed that to them through his demeanor and his smile and his kindness,” Gardner said.

What’s important his friends say is the standard he set for how to live.

“I want him to be remembered as somebody that people should look up to and somebody that should be an example of how to treat sports,” Wood said.

“He didn’t take any of his time for granted and was never ever spiteful. He just wanted to shed light on the world,” Gardner said.