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Beijing Winter Olympics 2022

Ellie Soutter death: snowboard star killed herself on 18th birthday over missing flight to Team GB training, believes father

Tragic British snowboarder, who was tipped for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, had history of mental health issues and felt she had ‘let the squad down’ after missing flight to training, according to her father

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 3:30pm

Tragic snowboarder Ellie Soutter had a history of mental health issues and may have killed herself because she felt she had “let the squad down” when she missed a flight to join up for training with the British squad, her father believes.

Soutter, who was a rising star in Britain’s Olympic set-up and was tipped to star at Beijing 2022, was found dead on her 18th birthday deep in a remote woodland near her home in the French Alps.

She was set to compete in New Zealand at this month’s Junior World Championships but disappeared from a ski resort in Les Gets, France, according to People Magazine.

No official cause of death has been confirmed but her father Tony Soutter told the BBC that several factors contributed to his daughter “ending her life”, including her struggles to deal with the pressures of competing at the highest level.

“Unfortunately it all came about from missing a flight which then meant she didn’t go training with the [Team GB] squad,” Tony Soutter, 53, said.

“She felt she’d let them down, felt she’d let me down, and just tragically it just takes one silly little thing like that to tip someone over the edge, because there’s a lot of pressure on children.”

Ellie Soutter, British snowboarder and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics hopeful, dies on her 18th birthday

Soutter “wanted to be the best” according to her father, and she said the Beijing Winter Olympics were her “ultimate ambition” having won Team GB’s only medal at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival when she took bronze in Turkey.

“Mental health awareness needs to be really looked at and made more public. I have lost my best friend, my total buddy. She was my rock.”

Soutter’s funeral is expected to take place on Thursday in Les Gets, followed by a private cremation.

“Everyone is still in shock and can’t understand why it happened,” close friend Ryan Pelluchon, 22, told People. “We still – as a group – find it very hard to understand. It’s just devastating really.”

Pelluchon added: “The last people who saw her, left her and she was in a good mood. A few of her friends went out for her birthday at midnight, and then left her in her bed. Her dad said, ‘happy birthday’, left for work and that’s the last we heard.

“We had a big thing planned on Friday for her birthday, but we still went to the same place and let go of about 120 lanterns in the sky for her in the mountains.”

Soutter was “incredibly popular” and “well-liked” among the British team, according to a joint statement from British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson and athlete commission chairman Ben Hawes last week.

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

Soutter’s family have launched a GoFund Me for young winter sport athletes who need financial help to achieve their potential and dreams.

Her death has led to an outpouring of tributes on social media. “We’re under so much pressure to be perfect these days,” one user commented under a Team GB video on YouTube of Soutter reflecting on her bronze medal win at Erzurum 2017.

“Such a sad loss, this beautiful young star did her country proud,” another user wrote. “Sweet dreams and deepest sympathy to all that knew this very talented girl.”

Another comment read: “However dark the place she was in, whatever burdens and demons she was struggling with, she had people around her who could have helped if they had known. So sad that she felt there was no other option but to end her life. And so sad for her family who have to live with the pain, grief and questions without answers.”