Entertainment Sports U.S. Freestyle Skier Kyle Smaine Killed In Japan Avalanche The Lake Tahoe, Calif.-based athlete, 31, was visiting the area on a marketing trip By Valerie Nome Valerie Nome Contributor, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 30, 2023 11:35 AM Share Tweet Pin Email U.S. freestyle skier Kyle Smaine was one of two skiers killed Sunday in an avalanche in Japan. The Lake Tahoe, Calif.-based athlete, 31, posted an Instagram video of himself skiing on the day of the tragic accident. "This is what brings me back to Japan each winter," he wrote. "Unbelievable snow quality, non-stop storms, and really fun terrain that seems to get better the more exploring you do." Smaine, who won a gold medal in halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in 2015, was caught in an avalanche that occurred in Nagano Prefecture, on Japan's Honshu Island, his father, William Smaine, told NBC News. Pa. Brothers and Prominent Businessmen Killed in Avalanche During Canadian Ski Trip: 'Heartbreaking' Reuters reported that the avalanche occurred at 2:30 p.m. local time at Mount Hakuba Norikura in the ski resort, according to a Nagano police spokesperson. According to NBC News, an avalanche warning had been issued after days of heavy snow. 2 Snowmobile Riders Buried and Killed in Colorado Avalanche Up to five men were caught in the avalanche, Reuters reported, skiing in two separate groups. Three skiers climbed down the mountain on their own, but one other man, from Austria, was killed. Smaine was visiting the area on a marketing trip for Ikon Pass and Nagano Tourism, Mountain Gazette reported., along with Washington-based pro skier Adam Ü, who spoke about Smaine's final hours in an interview Sunday. Kyle Smaine. Sean M. Haffey/Getty "It was the last run of the last day of our trip," he said. "We had no camera gear with us. We were going out for fun." According to Mountain Gazette, "after the first run, Ü and Smaine went for a second lap. On the summit, Ü and Smaine met up with a group of Austrian skiers. Smaine and Ü skied the same run as before. The Austrian group decided to ski a different aspect with different exposure, according to Ü." The article continued, "Smaine and Ü, at the bottom, were transitioning their backcountry gear back into uphill mode. The first of the Austrian group joined them. The second Austrian skier triggered the slide." "We saw it coming," Ü said. "We heard the crack. We realized it is a big one. We started running and then we got hit." Kyle Smaine. Sean M. Haffey/Getty According to Mountain Gazette, Ü was buried for nearly 25 minutes, according to the person who rescued him, but was able to walk down the mountain on his own. Rescue efforts were performed on the Austrian skiier and Smaine, but they were unresponsive. Man Dies in Colo. Avalanche While Skiing with His Father, Who Freed Himself from Snow and Survived According to Gripped Outdoors, Smaine was the first alternate for Team USA in the 2018 Olympics.