on January 20, 2003, the best snowboarder in the world lost his life in an avalanche in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. It is a testament to Craig Kelly's reputation, character and athletic abilities that none will argue the fact that he was the best. He was the first true profes-sional snowboarding athlete and a four-time freestyle world champion with a laundry list of accomplish-ments who found himself drawn to the wild snow of the backcountry. Craig once told me that powder kept him on track in life.

He loved the travel aspect of snowboard-ing and was an addict for new experiences and new people. He found so much joy in the worldly pur-suit of fresh snow that is difficult to fully grasp this tragedy. Craig always knew what could happen in the backcountry. He preached the gospel of avalanche safety wherever he went. In Iran, he helped lead an impromptu avalanche safety course for Persian snowboarders. When we left the mountains, he gave them all of his (and all of our) avalanche safety equipment, reasoning we are rich Americans.

We can buy new transceivers at home. Craig never lost sight of how fortunate he was. His family. His friends.

His lifestyle. He shared his view-points with an open mind and was far more than an ambassador to snowboarding. Craig Kelly wasa n ambassador to humanity. An inspiration.

it's somewhat comforting to know that Craig experienced more face shots in his 36 years than the rest of us will in three lifetimes. Indeed, the highlight of my career asa snowboarding journalist was being able to watch him ride powder truly a mind boggling display of power and grace. I guess its a silver lining that hes seen more & and experienced more than the 104-year-old. But then, have had such an eagerness for exploration and love for life..