An avalanche in Japan claimed the life of retired world champion halfpipe skier Kyle Smaine on Sunday, according to NBC News, which cited information provided by Smaine’s father. He was 31.
Ski halfpipe world champion Smaine has been in Japan conducting ski filming for the previous week, and he had been posting films to his Instagram account during that time. Smaine won the world title in 2015. At the Winter X Games held in Aspen, Colorado in 2016, a resident of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished in ninth place in the ski halfpipe competition.
Smaine won the fifth and final event in the U.S. Olympic qualifying series for ski halfpipe in 2018, however he did not end up being selected for the four-man team that went to PyeongChang. His most recent officially sanctioned participation in an international competition took place in February of 2018.
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David Wise, a two-time Olympic winner, won the men’s ski halfpipe competition at the X Games late on Sunday night and dedicated his victory to Smaine.
“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”
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