Ellie Soutter: Tributes to British snowboarder who died on her 18th birthday

Ellie Soutter during the Youth Olympic Winter Festival in 2017

Tributes have been paid to talented young British snowboarder Ellie Soutter, who died on her 18th birthday on Wednesday.

Soutter won a bronze medal for Great Britain at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and carried the British flag at the closing ceremony.

Writing on Facebook, her father Tony said he was “so proud of the beautiful young woman she had turned into”.

No further details have been released about her death.

Her father added: “This cruel world took my soulmate and ‘Bessie’ from me yesterday on her 18th birthday.

“Ellie, I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little champion.”

Earlier in July, she was named in the senior GB squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup circuit, and was tipped for a place at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

She had been training abroad in Europe, and died near her home in France.

Ellie Soutter celebrates her bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival

Tributes – ‘You were an amazing girl’

Eight-time British ski-cross champion Emily Sarsfield is among those to have paid tribute.

“So sad to hear the news of the passing of Ellie Soutter. You really were an amazing girl,” she posted on social media.

“Such a fun team-mate, made me smile every day, cracking all the jokes and enjoying life to its fullest. I’m going to miss you and your amazing energy. All my thoughts to your family.”

British double Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold on Twitter
The GB Park and Pipe ski and snowboard teams tweeted that they were “devastated” to hear news about Ellie Soutter
SportsAid, a charity for young athletes, tweeted this message

Britain’s 2010 Olympic skeleton champion Amy Williams said: “Such sad tragic news to wake up to. Thoughts and prayers go to Ellie Soutter’s family.”

British slopestyle snowboarder Aimee Fuller said it was “devastating news”, adding: “We’ve lost a fellow snowboarder and a great inspirational talent within our small community.”

British Olympic Association chair Hugh Robertson and BOA athletes’ commission chair Ben Hawes said in a joint statement: “Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”

Soutter was set to return to competition in August after being selected for the GB team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand.

“Ellie was one of the country’s best up-and-coming snowboarders, competing in both snowboard cross and freeride,” British Ski and Snowboard said in a statement.

Team GB said Soutter grew up in Oxted, Surrey, before moving to the Alps, where she trained.

‘I cried as I crossed the line’

Soutter’s bronze was Great Britain’s only medal at the Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Turkey last year.

Team GB celebrated her medal with the Twitter message: “Tears of joy and snow stuffed down her back.”

Speaking after her event, she said: “I cried as I crossed the line. I was just so emotional as it hasn’t been the best season for me and it’s finally on the way up.

“I even asked my coach to put snow down my back when I was in the start gate. It helps wake me up so I don’t feel all floppy like a jellyfish.

“I just hope this isn’t the last medal I win for Team GB. My goal is to compete at Beijing 2022.”

Her father had set up an online crowdfunding campaign to help her achieve this aim, which had raised close to a quarter of its 20,000 euros (£17,800) target.

Soutter (left) competing in snowboard cross at the European Youth Olympics Winter Festival in 2017