VIDEO: Family, girlfriend mourn snowboarder who died at China Peak

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – 36-year-old Blake Smith was no stranger to China Peak.

His friends and family said he had been there almost a hundred times, which made the news they got Friday even more shocking — it quickly became their worst nightmare.

The man she kissed goodbye the night before he left for what became a deadly snowboarding trip.

“Not only was he my boyfriend but my best friend. I text messaged him Friday at 5pm asking how the day went and I didn’t even know he was dead,” said Smith’s Girlfriend Ashley Siipola.

Smith and Siipola had been dating over a year. The two, adventure partners. She described him as the “ying” to her “yang.”

“He’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. He loved life, he was extremely easy going, and never thought twice about much. He always made me laugh,” she said.

Siipola said Smith was more than a regular on the slopes — a fanatic to say the least. He even traveled across the United States to snowboard at different parks.

“When I first started dating Blake he told me ‘you won’t have a boyfriend come snowboarding season.’ It’s true. That’s what he loved,” she said.

Friday’s fatal trip to China Peak was supposed to be just another quick trip in winter weather.

“It was like his Christmas. He couldn’t wait for the day, Friday. He was ready for the powder and to go with his friends,” said Siipola.

Smith’s parents said he was a year 2000 Buchanan High School graduate and later graduated Fresno State.

He was a star football player and a race car lover.

His parents — heartbroken.

“He’s an only child. He was the love of my life,” said Smith’s Mom Linda Cotta.

“When I think of Blake I think of how happy he was to pass away doing what he loved and how happy he was to go that day with people he loved,” said Siipola.

Family and friends said Smith was working towards “The Wild West Powder Quest,” a competition to visit as many Powder Alliance resorts as possible to win an international ski and snowboarding trip. As of Friday Smith was in first place.



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