Ellie Soutter: Gifted snowboarder who died on her 18th birthday overcame huge financial hurdles to be selected for Team GB
She had just returned to the UK for a family wedding and had been all set to enter a competition representing Team GB in New Zealand next month
Eighteen-year-old gifted snowboarder Ellie Soutter, who tragically died on July 25, her birthday, was forced to stay out of the sport at the beginning of the year but had made a triumphant comeback just three weeks ago. Soutter had been selected to compete for Team GB. She had just returned to the UK for a family wedding and had been all set to enter a competition representing the UK in New Zealand next month. Tony Soutter, her devastated father who also lived with her in the French Alps, has said that he has lost his "soul mate" after he confirmed her death on July 26.
Soutter's career had looked like it was in trouble at the beginning of the year when she had to opt out of training because of a "lack of funds". Her father had taken to Facebook to start a fundraising campaign. He explained that the teen's training programme had "come to a halt" due to the expensive cost of just one season in the sport - £24,000. Soutter, however, managed to make a comeback by scoring a sponsorship from the financial services firm Carne. By March this year, she won the second spot at the Eldorado Junior Freeride Tour and when the same competition took place in April, she finished third in Europe, reported the Daily Mail.
The father had just announced on July 8 that he was a "proud dad" because his precious daughter had been selected to represent Team GB for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand. On July 26, Tony Soutter announced on Facebook that his daughter had passed away. He said: "This cruel world took my Soul mate and 'Bessie' from me yesterday on her 18th birthday. I was so proud of the beautiful young woman she had turned into. Ellie, I will miss you more than you could have ever imagined. Rest in peace you little Champion!" The cause of Soutter's untimely demise is still not known.
The teen snowboarder was a specialist in the Freeride and Boardercross forms of snowboarding and had been set to return to the powdery slopes of New Zealand in August this year representing Team GB. The team released a statement saying: "The British Olympic Association is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of snowboard cross athlete Ellie Soutter, aged 18. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time."
Soutter had also been an ambassador for Les Gets Ski Station in the French Alps. She also lived in Les Gets with her father and this is where she first learned how to snowboard when she was all of 10-years-old. British Olympic Association (BOA) Chair Hugh Robertson and BOAAthlete Commission Chair Ben Hawes said:"Ellie was an incredibly popular and well-liked member of the team. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time."
After she won in a competition in Turkey when she was just 16-years-old, she told British Ski and Snowboard (BSS): "I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. I'm a little bit emotional. I cried as I crossed the line." BSS has released a statement on Soutter's death saying: "Ellie was one of the country's best up-and-coming snowboarders, competing in both snowboard cross and freeride. She was an inaugural member of the British Europa Cup snowboard cross programme which commenced earlier this year. The thoughts and condolences of the British ski and snowboard community are with Ellie's family, friends and teammates."