Rising British snowboard star Ellie Soutter died this past Wednesday, on her 18th birthday, after going into the forests near Les Gets, France. Now, her adoring coach is mourning her death, as are hundreds of devoted fans, friends and loved ones.
Déborah Anthonioz, 39, Soutter's coach and a French Olympic silver medalist told PEOPLE that she'd last seen the beautiful athlete 12 days ago and had spoken to her three days before she mysteriously passed.
"There was no sign of anything wrong," Anthonioz said. "She was very determined, highly motivated, she had everything going for her. She was getting a big sponsor. Everything was falling into place."
Anthonioz added that she and Soutter were more like "best friends" than like coach and student. "Every day I am less able to believe this has happened," she said. "Ellie was full of life, and always smiling."
As of now, Soutter's cause of death has not been revealed, though it was described as "sudden" by Britsh Ski and Snowboard.
"It was impossible to understand," said Anthonioz. "Everyone who saw her Tuesday evening says she has stopped her practice a little early because she was tired but that otherwise she seemed fine." She added that "something must've happened" that night for her to pass away so suddenly the next day.
"And now I feel as though I've lost a little sister," said the heartbroken coach.
Following her death, Soutter's parents launched The Ellie Soutter Foundation made for other British youths to become winter sports athletes.
This Thursday, they will gather, along with other mourners, for a cremation and ceremony.
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