On Christmas morning, 21-year-old UC Davis senior Randy Davis left girlfriend Kelsey Hudson’s house for a skiing session on the fresh snow of Squaw Valley.
Following his first run of the morning, at approximately 11:15 a.m., an avalanche claimed the life of this passionate competitive freestyle skier.
Davis, a native of Tahoe City, spent Christmas Eve with the Hudson family because it was snowing heavily and he wanted to get the first chair in the morning.
Davis woke up at 7:30 a.m. the next day while Hudson, a UC Berkeley sophomore, was still sleeping. As he left, he told Hudson he loved her and would be back by 11 a.m. When he didn’t come home, the Hudson family put Christmas on hold until last Monday.
“He was a lot more than my boyfriend,” Hudson said. “[My family] basically adopted him. He was here almost every single night, even when I wasn’t home.“
A ski patroller and search dog located his body under the avalanche, several yards from where he was last seen. Davis died of trauma due to the impact of running into a tree and avalanche debris. No one witnessed the accident that occurred on the steep terrain of Poulsen’s Gully.
The Squaw Valley Ski Patrol responded to a call from Davis‘ friend, who reported him missing. The patrol began search and rescue operations using dogs, beacons, probes and Recco, an electronic tracking device, said Squaw Valley USA spokesperson Savannah Cowley in an e-mail interview.
A reported 22 inches of snow fell the night before Davis‘ accident and continued throughout Christmas Day. Earlier that day, ski patrol conducted avalanche control procedures in the area. The last inbounds avalanche fatality at the resort occurred in 1963.
Davis was born in Avalon on Catalina Island. His family moved to Squaw Valley when he was two years old and now lives in Tahoe City.
“He learned how to ski as he learned how to walk,” said his mother Nanci Davis.
Davis was a longtime Squaw Valley pass holder and a coach for the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team. He wanted to go to the Olympics in aerial skiing and used to take winter quarters off from Davis to compete.
Davis, a graduate of North Tahoe High School, had recently declared an exercise biology major and talked about going into medicine, physical therapy or sports training. His mother also encouraged him to look into education because he was good with kids of all ages. He played intramural flag football, enjoyed mountain and road biking and worked as an astronomy teacher’s assistant. Davis was also learning to play the guitar and Hudson’s mother was teaching him how to cook.
“[Randy] wasn’t a follower,” said his mother Nanci. “He was never affected by peer pressure. He was always of his own mind, always very playful and a prankster, he loved practical jokes. He was very easygoing and nothing fazed him. It was tough to make him angry.“
Cassidy Iverson, sophomore human development major and friend of Davis‘, said he was very close to his family, especially to his sister Jessica.
“They were like best friends and he loved his family a lot,” Iverson said. “Around his friends he was just so optimistic and it rubbed off on everyone.“
His sister Jessica, a third-year law student at UC Davis King Hall School of Law, said Randy was a very caring and easygoing person.
“He donated blood all the time on campus in blood drives,” she said. “He and I went together one time, and the woman did it wrong, and blood starting squirting all over the room. He was the most relaxed person there and everyone was flipping out. But he was very calm and collected and wasn’t fazed about anything.“
A memorial service was held on Saturday at Olympic Village Lodge at Squaw Valley. The Randy C. Davis Memorial Fund, a division of Charitysmith, was created to give annual awards to local Tahoe and Truckee skiers to fund summer training camps.
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at email@example.com