A spokesperson for the State Department confirmed in an emailed statement that a US citizen had been killed, but did not confirm his identity, citing privacy concerns.
“The U.S. State Department has no higher priority than the safety and security of overseas U.S. citizens,” the statement said. “We are aware of an avalanche in Nagano, Japan on January 29. We can confirm that a US citizen died in Nagano on January 30. Due to privacy considerations, we do not have additional details at this time.”
A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Tokyo said they were “aware of the incident in Nagano Prefecture and have contacted the relevant authorities to provide all appropriate assistance.”
At least five skiers from the US and Austria were hit by an avalanche on the eastern slope of Mount Hakuba Norikura, a Nagano State police spokesperson said. Reuters. Three of them managed to survive the avalanche, but two skiers were found dead. Weather forced the search to be suspended, and their bodies were found on Monday.
An avalanche warning was issued for the region, including Japan. dealing with widespread heavy snow and save cold. Mountain skiing is popular with advanced skiers and snowboarders, who are attracted by the fresh, deep snow and absence of crowds. “This,” snake Smaine written “This is what brings me back to Japan every winter,” along with a video of her skiing on Instagram.
But even an experienced skier or snowboarder can trigger or be caught in a naturally occurring avalanche that starts a race against time and odds for rescuers. Although most of the victims were buried under an average of only one meter of snow, hopes of survival are becoming more and more likely About 15 minutes later, Dale Atkins, former president of the American Avalanche Association and a former forecaster at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, told the Washington Post in 2021. When the avalanche stops, snow gets trapped around the victims, almost like concrete.
Mountain Gazette photographer Grant Gunderson and Glacier, Adam Ü, a professional skier from Washington, were also on the trip, and Ü told the Mountain Gazette that Smaine and another unidentified deceased skier had made the transition. When an avalanche occurs, shift the mountain gear to uphill mode.
“It was the last run of the last day of our trip,” Ü said.
As news of the tragedy swept the freestyle ski community, there were numerous commemorations on social media. Joss Christensen, a freestyle skier in Park City, Utah, responded to Smaine’s latest video: “I wish we had more time to ski these last years. Thank you Kyle for always being such a positive energy.”
USA Freestyle Ski Team wrote on Instagram Describing Smaine as “a fierce competitor but an even better person and friend”, he said he lost “an incredible person, friend, skier and teammate in the mountains”.
Olympic and freestyle skier Travis Ganong Wrote “He was heartbroken when he heard of my friend’s passing. … He loved skiing more than anyone I know. You will be missed.”
Mio Inuma reported from Tokyo.
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