Team GB snowboarder Ellie Soutter has tragically died on her 18th birthday. The rising star of the sport had won a bronze medal for Great Britain at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was given the chance to carry the British flag at the closing ceremony. The British Olympic Association confirmed her death on Thursday, with this 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."
Team GB snowboarder Ellie Soutter was a rising star in the sport
Ellie's father, Tony Soutter, also paid a heartbreaking tribute to his daughter on Facebook. "This cruel world took my Soul mate and 'Bessie' from me yesterday on her 18th birthday," he shared. "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 teenager, who lived with her dad in the French Alps, was tipped for a place at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Ellie was Team GB's only medal at the Youth Olympic Winter Festival. "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," she said at the event in Turkey last year via BBC. "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." Ellie was due to return to a snowboard cross competition next month and after she was selected for the British team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand.