Ellie Soutter, one of the most exciting snowboarding prospects in the world, has died at the age of just 18. The tragic news was announced in a statement by British Ski and Snowboard. The statement did not elaborate on a cause of death but described the passing as “sudden” and includes information about the United Kingdom’s suicide prevention hotline. ITV’s Mark Williams-Thomas reports that Soutter took her own life and was found in a remote wooded area near her home in France. Soutter died on her 18th birthday, July 25th.
The press release highlighted some of Soutter’s achievements including winning a bronze medal at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Turkey. Her medal was the only medal achieved by Team Great Britain that year. The press release ends with, “The thoughts and condolences of the British Ski & Snowboard community are with Ellie’s family, friends and teammates.”
Her uncle told the Daily Mail that Soutter showed “no signs” at all that she would take her own life. Prior to her death, Soutter was scheduled to have a joined birthday party with her father. The Mail says that Soutter’s ashes will be spread across one of her favorite mountains in Les Gerts.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Soutter’s Dad, Tony Soutter, Called the World ‘Cruel’ for Taking His Daughter Away in a Heartbreaking Facebook Post
Her father, Tony Soutter, wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his daughter on Facebook saying, “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!” Tony Soutter’s last Facebook post before Ellie’s tragic passing saw him pay tribute to another of his daughter’s incredible achievements in snowboarding in which he wrote that he was a “proud dad again.” According to the Daily Mail, Tony Soutter last saw his daughter on the morning of July 25 when he went to say goodbye before he went to work but she was fast asleep. He texted her but there was no reply, when he returned home for lunch and his daughter was not home, Tony Soutter sounded the alarm. Sniffer dogs found Ellie Soutter’s body in a wooded area after 11 p.m. on her birthday. There was no note.
Soutter’s last social media activity came on June 28 when she posted the above photo to her Instagram page. The friend pictured in that photo, Jess, paid tribute to her friend on Instagram writing, “I have no words, I still can’t believe it. We are gonna miss you so much. You will be always in my hearts and I hope you will keep an eye on us. #rideforellie.”
During the 2017/18 season, Soutter competed as part of the Freeride Junior Tour and had been selected as a member of the British team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand. In 2018, Soutter was part of the inaugural British Europa Cup snowboard cross program. Soutter boarded in the disciplines of boardercross, freeride and half pipe. In June 2017, Soutter was featured by the Daily Telegraph as one of the “Future Stars of British Snow Sports.”
After winning her bronze medal at the European Youth Olympic Festival, Soutter told her hometown newspaper in the UK, the Bromley Times, “I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet, I’m a little bit emotional. 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.” In April 2016, Soutter won silver at the British Snowboard Cross tournament after opting to not compete at her age level.
In 2015, Soutter’s father attempted to raise money to help support his daughter’s career via Go Fund Me. The page ended up raising less thant $5,000 of a $23,000 goal. Tony Soutter said that the page was created because of a lack of financial support for his daughter’s career from British Ski and Snowboard. He said that due to the lack of funds, her progress has been stunted.
2. Soutter’s Mother Is Former Miss. United Kingdom & Female Body Builder Lorraine Denman
According to posts on her Twitter page, Soutter’s mother is former Miss United Kingdom and female body builder Lorraine Denman. Denman still lives in England, in the town of Hove in East Sussex. Tony Soutter’s brother, Jeremy, told the Daily Mail, “Ellie grew up with her father Tony. They were incredibly close. When Tony and his wife divorced, Tony was adamant that he would bring Ellie up. He has quite extraordinary parenting skills.” Jeremy Soutter as still being close to her mother but her father was her “best friend.”
Denman told the Sun in April 2017 that she was working as a veterinarian but had decided to focus full-time on bodybuilding. Speaking about her beauty pageant career, Denman said, “I was crowned Miss London and Miss UK in my early twenties but really didn’t like the pressure to be thin. I carried on working out at the gym, doing cardio and weights, but it was in 2009 that I really focused myself on building more muscle. After watching the British bodybuilding finals one year, I knew I wanted to compete. I threw myself into training and changed my diet. I found the focus and discipline of bodybuilding very comforting. But it can become obsessive.”
3. Soutter Began Her Snowboarding Journey at the Age of 10
In her Facebook “Intro” section, Soutter said of herself, “Occasionally doing cool things with my snowboard.” Soutter was from London but lived in Morzine in French Alps. Soutter was formerly a student at the Old Hawthorns School in Surrey.
According to her official website, Soutter began snowboarding at the age of ten. Her coach was French Olympian Deborah Anthonioz. Soutter’s official bio that it was her goal to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. In addition to her snowboarding career, mountain biking and hiking were among her other hobbies.
4. Soutter Was Just Snowboarding With Friends When She Was Discovered by Members of Team Great Britain
Soutter wrote on her LinkedIn page that she began skiing at three years old. Soutter says she moved to France with her father in November 2010 and began to take up snowboarding. During a day snowboarding with friends, Soutter says she was spotted by a group of Team Great Britain boarders who were training nearby. Soutter adds that the most serious injury she suffered up to that point while boarding was a broken wrist.
In 2016, Soutter was the subject of a beautiful photo shoot by photographer Susie Lawrence. Lawrence wrote in a tribute to her young subject, “This isn’t the kind of photography she’s used to at all as she’s normally captured in action on the slopes and she’d never done any modeling but what a natural she was. Thanks so much Ellie, you are amazing.” On the day of Soutter’s death, Lawrence wrote on Twitter, “Devastated to hear about the sudden death of Ellie Soutter yesterday on her 18th birthday. I fully expected to be watching her in the next Olympics. The couple of hours I spent with her were…”
5. Fans of Soutter’s Have Been Taking to Twitter to Mourn the Tragic Loss
Many snowboarding fans have taken to Twitter to mourn Soutter. Here are some of the most poignant tributes: