Alpine

Go Fast, Don't Die: Kyle Smaine Profile

The Lake Tahoe resident has discovered that a lifetime of skiing extends beyond halfpipe competitions.

Kyle Smaine selfie

Freeride athlete Kyle Smaine, 31, hails from South Lake Tahoe and has been with the Fischer team since 2015. His penchant for adventuring in the big mountains has taken him around the world. When he’s not exploring peaks in distant places, he’s skiing at Sierra at Tahoe in his favorite Fischer boot, the Ranger Pro 130, and on his favorite ski, the Ranger 102.

“I hate stressing over gear decisions. I just grab this boot every day and go ski. Resort, backcountry, park, it doesn’t matter. The Ranger Pro boot handles it all.”

Smaine played an essential role in the development of the Ranger 102 ski. “I was very involved with the testing prototyping and creation of the newest line. To see the skis we’ve been working on for 3 years come to the masses is so cool.  It’s a process I always dreamed about being involved in as a kid coming up in skiing,” he notes.

Kyle Smaine Lake Tahoe POV

What are the top 3 things we should know about you?

1. I just love the adventure of exploring the mountains.

2. I love sweets and pastries.

3. Big mountains get me freaking excited.

Favorite Quote or Personal Motto?

Go Fast, Don’t Die

What was the biggest breakthrough in your ski career?

Maybe my last pipe contest ever, the Mammoth Grand Prix in 2018. It was the final Olympic Qualifier. I unexpectedly won and became the first alternate for the US Olympic team. Then, never competed in the pipe again. 

I think I had a lot of moments that some would call breakout: winning World Championships in 2015, making X Games finals, placing third at War of Rails, placing fifth at Dew Tour Breckenridge, and coming in second at SFR tour (first would have given me a spot at Euro X Games). But honestly, it didn’t feel like any of them made a significant impact on my career. I didn’t get more sponsors and I didn’t make more money…or really any money.  I suppose it depends on what you define as a breakout.

If I see a single moment that changed the trajectory of my career in a positive way, it was quitting competitions, focusing on soul skiing, and sharing my passion of the sport and how rad skiing can be. Nothing else has even come close to that shift.   

Kyle Smaine above Lake Tahoe

Favorite pastime / hobbies (besides skiing, of course)?

Mountain biking and surfing. Both sports demand you to be in the moment and focused just like skiing does. They have this adventure element where you’re searching for new places and good conditions. They just happen to be a little warmer.

Where have you not been that you want to go to (preferably for skiing)?

Love this question! Lofoten or Lyngen alps in Norway. Spring skiing in the fjords where you can leave from the ocean and hike 3,000-4,000 feet up and ski down such spectacular peaks. I need to make it happen. 

What was your most humbling moment?

Winning Mammoth Grand Prix. The event was exactly one year from when I had blown my knee.  All I wanted to do was land this run I had been working towards. I didn’t care about the results, just the process of getting healthy and putting down this run in my head. Then to end up winning and to see the love and support I received from everyone was overwhelming. So many people are out there rooting for you even if you don’t know it.  

A smiling snow tree while ski touring

Future goals/projects/dreams/ambitions?

1. Ski in rad mountains with rad people.

2. Share the love and thrill of skiing with people that may have never been inclined to do the sport.

3. Help create products that make skiing more enjoyable for people.

Who do you consider to be a current mentor or role model?

From afar I would say Daron Rahlves, Cody Townsend, and Sammy Carlson. All three of those guys have been able to take incredible ski careers and shift them to something entirely different. Just to watch Cody and Sammy look at these realms of skiing that they admittedly weren’t good at in comparison to pros who specialize in that niche and choose to do it anyways is so rad. They weren’t afraid of their weaknesses and instead took it as an opportunity to find this entirely different realm of skiing and challenge themselves to learn, evolve, and build their ski knowledge and skills. That is the epitome of why I think skiing is so cool. Even within the sport of skiing there are so many disciplines and niches that you can always do or learn something new.  

What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your competitive career?

Focus on the process, not on the results.  When I was younger, I would often be stressing about needing to do well in certain events. They were admittedly important events to do well at to qualify for a series or other big events.  You can’t perform at your best if you’re trying to focus on the outcome. You need to focus on the moment and prepare to do what you’re able to at that time. Then you will be in a headspace to perform well and get good results.