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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

KREISCHBERG, AUSTRIA - JANUARY 22: Kyle Smaine of USA poses withj the gold medal won in the Men’s Ski Halfpipe Finals during the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships 2015 on January 22, 2015 in Kreischberg, Austria (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it 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.”