The sudden, absurd death of a brilliant skater. The world says goodbye to Denis Ten

The skater who brought Olympic fame to Kazakhstan by winning the country’s first ever Olympic medal in figure skating – bronze in Sochi, in 2014 – lost his life on July 19, 2018, on the streets of Almaty, as a result of an attack: stabbed in the thigh by two people attempting to steal his car mirrors, Denis was rushed to the hospital, but died two hours later.
When bursting out on twitter yesterday afternoon, reported by Kazinform news agency – first the attack, and then the death – the short, rather laconic piece of news left people in shock. Bigger and bigger by the seconds, it soon became overwhelming, incredibly saddening and difficult to process.
Reactions from all over started to pour – fans, friends, skaters, colleagues, coaches expressed their consternation – and it all became a river of sadness. The whole figure skating world mourns Denis Ten, who physically disappears from stage and life in a shameful, absurd act of violence, but who stays on everyone’s mind, an immaculate surface of ice having him skate for ever and ever “Mi mancherai”.

Because the truth is that: we’ll miss you deeply, Denis. We already do.

“The world has lost one of its brightest. My friend, my brother, Denis Ten… I miss you so much. Denis Ten was an inspiring athlete, artist, musician, leader, and ambassador. He was brilliant in so many ways, but perhaps his greatest gift was his kindness and the compassion he showed toward others.
My thoughts go out to his parents, his friends, and his many fans all around the world. I’m heartbroken – so devastated.
I want everyone to know Denis the way I knew him. Here are some of my fondest memories of my friend. I met Denis Ten in 2008 in Courchevel, France. It was Maia Shibutani’s and my first major international figure skating competition. We became fast friends.
Denis told me he learned English by watching movies and listening to American music. As a joke, he would integrate the chorus from «Yeah» by Usher into our conversations. It was never just one «Yeah.» It was all of them. He was such a funny guy.
Maia Shibutani and I convinced Denis to join Twitter when he visited us one summer in the U.S. I’m pretty sure the «DenisTen» Twitter handle was available, but Denis was always different. He flipped the first letters of his name, and that’s why he’s @Tenis_Den on Twitter.
Denis Ten was strong, brave, and resilient both on and off the ice. He performed and competed with an energy and intensity that simultaneously blasted out to the corners of the arena while also bringing the audience into the moments he created.
One of my favorite performances is his 2009 World Championships free program. It was his breakout performance. He brought the house down.
If you never had the opportunity to speak or spend time with Denis, this video shows you a glimpse of his thoughtfulness, his wisdom, and his gratitude.
This was our friendship.
We always talked with Denis about going to visit him in Kazakhstan. In 2015 we did. Denis organized a skating show and invited us to perform. It was an incredible experience and it changed my life. This is a video we made about the experience.
Love you, D10. I’m honored and so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet you. Thank you for being my friend. I hope that we meet again someday” (Alex Shibutani)

“My skating friend, Denis Ten, passed away today. He was so kind to everyone and a huge inspiration to me and so many other people. Murdered in the streets of Kazakhstan. Denis, thank you for showing us how to be a champion. Your time with us was way too short. Love you forever” (Adam Rippon).

“Heartbroken” (Carolina Kostner)

“You were an artist
You were a passionate person
You had multiple talents
You were a hard-worker
You had a great sense of humour
You had big dreams
You were generous
Your thoughts were deep and smart
You were respectful
You were eager to learn
You had amazing creativity
You were an inspiration
You had a true smile
You were a hero
You were unique
You were wise
You were a visionary
You had a brave heart
You were a beautiful friend
Thank you for the beautiful memories
I miss YOU Denis”
(Stéphane Lambiel)

“I never thought I would need to write these words. I can’t believe what happened and that our friend Denis Ten is no longer with us, that he fell victim to a senseless act of violence. I am feeling numb and at a loss of words. Denis was not only a beautiful skater, but a very talented person in many ways and most of all, he was an unique and kind human being. Someone who cared about people around him. Someone who went through many ups and downs and never gave up. Someone who loved life and was loved by many. I have so many memories of Denis and I remember him as a 13-year-old from Junior Worlds like it was yesterday. This photo from PyeongChang is the last one of him that I took. I’m still in denial. He had so many plans and death took him out of nowhere when his life was still about to start. R.I. P. Denis. You will live on in our hearts and memories” (Tatjana Flade)

“Denis, my friend, no words… Kind, sincere, modest… I remember you as a little boy when you came to watch me training… I don’t believe, I don’t want to believe… You were the jewel of any tournament and any show. The whole world of Figure Skating is mourning, like your people and your country and your fans all over the world! We remember and love you… The most sincere condolences to your family and friends. Hold on” (Evgeni Plushenko)

“I always thought he had a great future. That he will be at least a minister in Kazakhstan or even a president. He was so big, you know, not like everyone else. And very educated and tactful. And talented in everything. Denis… He called me to his show in Kazakhstan. I promised that I would definitely come next year. Everything must be done in time, to not regret it later. I’m crying. Such a bright man lost” (Julia Lipnitskaya)

“I was one of the lucky ones that had the chance to spend time and really get to know you, Denis. Every minute on the ice with you was a dream, because of your openness and need to bring something new to the skating world. I quickly discovered that skating was just one of your many talents. I was inspired by your ability to live life fully, without limits and always with compassion for others. You lived more then most would ever live in a lifetime. You were more than a friend, you were family. There was never enough time in the day when You, Bohdan and I got together. Every conversation was inspiring and meaningful. I love you Denis and miss you beyond words. Rest In Peace, beautiful friend” (Shae-Lynn Bourne)

“Denis seemed the most funny, unusual and one of the most creative people in the world of figure skating. It’s impossible to believe his death. I do not want to, and I cannot believe it. Condolences to everyone close to Denis. I will never forget his laughter” (Evgenia Medvedeva)

“Denis Ten, you were one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I can’t believe this is has happened to you! Your memory will live on. We will always love you, Denis” (Aljona Savchenko)

“I am so shocked and saddened by the news of Denis Ten. He was one of the most talented skaters on the planet and such a kind, smart and thoughtful human being. I always felt honoured to share the ice with him. My heart goes to his family…” (Eric Radford)

“I am absolutely heartbroken today. The world has lost a kind, brilliant, and talented hero. Some of my fondest memories of skating come from the years I trained with Denis. From late night photo shoots to daily locker room shenanigans, Denis always knew how to make you smile. You will be so missed, Denis” (Gracie Gold)

“With the loss of Denis Ten, the skating world lost one of our future leaders. Having recently worked with him, I was in awe of his vision and love for the world. He had infinite resources to offer and so willing to share” (Kurt Browning)

“I cannot believe this. It is too hard to understand. Denis, you were a prodigious talent and one of the nicest guys in figure skating. We are like a family in this sport. You are, and will forever be, loved and deeply missed. My thoughts and my prayers are for you and for your family. I hope you are resting in peace, my beautiful friend. May God be with you” (Emanuel Sandhu)

“Denis never ceased to amaze me. His hard work, artistic brilliance, kind hearted character, and passion & pride for figure skating & his country were unmatched. Heartbroken by the news… Sending thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and loved ones. The skating community has lost someone very special & it will never be the same… We miss you and love you forever, Denis Ten” (Jason Brown)

“I can’t organize my feelings, I can’t do it, I can’t accept… I can NOT believe… can NOT stop thinking about him… No way, no…” (Miki Ando)

“Denis Ten, I can’t believe you’re gone. I remember when you made your handle. We thought Tenis Den was so clever! You overflowed with talent. You were the kindest gentleman. To me you were the next president of Kazakhstan, whose people you made so proud with your achievements. The legacy you’ve left in your county will live forever, as will our memories of you. I’m sending every bit of love I have to Denis, his mother Oksana, and all of his friends and fans around the world. Rest In Peace, Denis” (Evan Bates)

“We are saddened by the tragic news of Denis Ten. The skating community has lost a beautiful skater. Our thoughts are with his family. Your passion will live on. Yuzuru, Jason, Javier, Gabrielle, Evgenia and all Team Cricket” (Brian Orser)

“My prayers goes to Denis Ten’s Family. He was a great young man which I got the pleasure to tour with. That’s a tragedy to loose someone like him and revolting at the same time to loose him that way. Rest In Peace, Denis” (Fabian Bourzat)

“Nous nous souviendrons de toi, sur glace et en dehors… Denis Y. Ten. Tu vas nous manquer” (Nathalie Pechalat)

“Unbelievable. He was so young and full of life. Terrible disheartening news this morning” (Meagan Duhamel)

“Only now I’m slowly processing it. I wished so much that it was just a mistake. We started to compete together since 2012, and were always assigned to the same GP. We have experienced the highs and lows together. We were friends in training and also opponents admiring each other. Denis have been dedicated to promoting the sport in his country and I was so honored to participate in his show. My good friend, may you stay in peace and continue your dance on the ice of heaven” (Han Yan)

“I feel so honored and grateful to have shared the ice with Denis Ten. One of the most beautiful skaters to have graced our sport. My thoughts are with his family during this unimaginable time. I feel so lucky to have made memories with Denis that I will cherish forever…” (Patrick Chan)

“Denis… No! Can’t believe it! Tell me this is a lie. Please do not take away this important fellow!!!!!!! Dennis, come back…” (Kanako Murakami)

“I do not believe! In addition to being an outstanding sportsman, you were also an erudite, well-read and intelligent person who always wanted to listen. I’ve known you for more than 10 years, and all this time you were a ray from which only warmth, kindness and positive came! You always joked. You always supported me. In a personal conversation, we shared our plans for life, and they were so grandiose that I always wondered how one person can do it all! You were a workaholic! You are a talent! You were a Man with a capital letter! You were talented in everything! And for what you would undertake, everything began to shine in other colors. You were a man of speech. I was proud that I had such a friend. I always took an example from you! And I think not only me… You were the idol of millions! I still have a lot to say, but what a pity that I can not tell you this personally… You will always remain in our hearts, because there are not enough people like you! Why do the heavens take the best? My friend, rest in peace. Let the earth rest for you” (Elena Radionova)

“My sweet Denis, It’s with a heavy heart I found out my long time friend was murdered on the streets of Kazakhstan for no reason! Denis, You were such an amazing person and I was so lucky to call you my friend for 9 years! People don’t realize how rare and precious love is, and Denis, we know your family and the whole figure skating world misses you like crazy! Your were the kindest sweetest amazing skater, but over all, you were an amazing friend and role model. I miss you terribly, but I know you will be watching and cheering us all on from heaven. It’s time for you to rest, our sweet angel!” (Gabrielle Daleman)

“Why, why, I can not believe it, I do not want to believe it. It’s painful, and I feel sad that my precious friends’ life was robbed. He came to the show in Japan, invited me to a show in Kazakhstan, we practiced together, we played tennis and had barbecue in Canada and Russia. He was very kind, funny and always trying hard. I pray for your soul from the bottom of my heart “ (Mao Asada)

“I am devastated by the senseless loss of Denis Ten. His immense talent and passion for skating was eclipsed by his kindness, energy and endless sense of humor. One didn’t have to spend more than a few minutes with him to feel how special he was. My heart breaks for his family” (Ben Agosto)

“It was incredible painful to hear about the sudden passing of Denis Ten, both a skating colleague and a lifetime friend. I have countless memories with him, fighting in competitions, enjoying skating in shows, being invited to his show in Kazakhstan. My heart is with his family and I sincerely pray he will rest in peace” (Daisuke Takahashi)

“I have no words… I’ve been skating with this man! I know a lot about him! What a workaholic, how he studied everything! All athletes who really love sports should learn from him. And the word «was», I cannot pronounce at all. Aunt Oksana, hang on! When a mother buries a child – this is wrong. The kingdom of heaven to you, Denis! After such news, you begin to appreciate what you have! Do not care about all the mistakes! Life is short for suffering! Rejoice in life while it is! You don’t know what will happen tomorrow! Today may be the last day of your life” (Adelina Sotnikova)

“The skating world has lost a beautiful soul. Taken from this world long before his time, his heart and passion on and off the ice will live on. My heart thoughts and prayers go out to his family! Denis Ten, you will be missed, my friend” (Zachary Donohue)

“I was shocked and sad to hear the news. Rest In Peace. Figure skating will be with you forever, Denis Ten” (Boyang Jin)

“God always takes the best… It would be better if this never happened, but it remains only to pray that there, in heaven, in the arms of God, our beloved Denis finds his last rest. We will always remember you… The most sincere condolences to relatives, friends and relatives. I’m crying, and I refuse to believe it” (Ekaterina Bobrova)

“I can’t understand any situation where the pros and cons of stealing car fucking mirrors should include the life of Denis Ten. He was one of the kindest human beings. Respects” (Mervin Tran)

“Denis Ten’s life was brutally taken today. Denis was only 25, and had so many opportunities ahead of him. I’m deeply shaken and saddened by his death. I honor his much too short life alongside the rest of the skating community, his family, friends, and fans” (Sasha Cohen)

“Denis Ten, noooo… We had only a few interactions – only one face-to-face. All of them celebrated us both being skating pupils of Frank Carroll. …aside from me gushing about his achievements as an athlete and artist. Of course. Denis… Your place in skating history is forever secure. The millions you’ve entertained and thrilled and made cry… ….the tens of thousands of us in skating who have been inspired by your highly originally and ebullient «voice» on the ice… My heart hurts for skating because there’s no one like you, Denis – and few who are in the same class or aspire to be” (Doug Mattis)

“So very saddened by the loss of this special young man. Denis, your heart, passion, kindness & generosity will not be forgotten. My thoughts are with your family, friends & fans whose lives you’ve made brighter. What a devastating loss for our skating family” (Meryl Davis)

“Denis’ ice show in Kazakhstan last month was really great. I really, really can’t believe it, and I’m sad and frustrated” (Nobunari Oda)

“The news of Denis Ten’s murder hits especially hard for me since I used to train with him. His commitment to his training was something I always admired. It’s hard to believe he is no longer with us and that he’ll no longer be able to share his talents with us” (Mirai Nagasu)

“The world has lost a bright light. We’ll miss your exuberance, artistry, and friendship, D.T.” (Tessa Virtue)

“Today, the world lost a bright star. Denis was not only incredibly talented, but also the kind of athlete where his kindness and light was felt way beyond the rink. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his friends and all the people that he made smile. You are missed. His talent was so much more than just being an athlete. He constantly amazed me with his capabilities and his passions in life. Denis, you were taken too soon from us. I think the entire community in in shock from this, and this loss will be felt for quite a while” (Ashley Wagner)

“So, so beyond sad to hear about our fellow skater and incredible human being Denis. You were an artist through and through, that I am honored to have witnessed grace the ice. Rest In Peace” (Kaitlyn Hawayek)

“So sad to hear of Denis Ten’s tragic passing. He was as kind as he was talented. It was an honour to share the ice with him. You will be greatly missed, Denis” (Scott Moir)

“Rest in peace” (Javier Fernández)

“Heard just now about the tragedy. Shocked and heartbroken. Denis Ten, he whole skating family will miss you, you were a true friend for so many with your big heart. Rest in peace, Denis” (Laura Lepisto)

“A beautiful soul, a great artist, a talented skater, a true champion… Hurts to say bye like this. You’ll be missed. All my thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones” (Sara Hurtado)

“So sad to hear about the passing of fellow figure skater Denis Ten. We will always remember him as a beautiful skater, and person. May his soul Rest In Peace…” (Gabriella Papadakis)

“I am deeply shocked, sad, devastated by the sudden passing of the amazing figure skater, true artist, human being, and if I may call it, my dear friend… I was so honored to collaborate with him in Geneva back in December 2014. It was my very first time to perform in an ice show and I was very nervous, but Denis was very friendly and made me laugh so much and feel comfortable. After the show, I was going to ask all the figure skaters to write just a note and autograph. Denis happened to be the first I asked, and then, he wrote me this wonderful message, so I couldn’t ask others to write any more… Last year, I toured in Kazakhstan for the first time, and saw his parents and met some of his friends who all were so kind to me.. I was so much looking forward to telling him my stories there when I could see him the next time… I still can’t believe this fact, but I just want to say how much I am thankful to him and adore his personality. Denis, you will always be remembered and loved by many people” (Kotaro Fukuma)

“Heartbroken to hear of the death of Denis. Sympathies and prayers to his family and the skating family” (Kristi Yamaguchi)

“Denis Ten and I met in 2006 at a JGP in The Hague, Netherlands, where we instantly bonded over the weird coincidence that we shared the same surname. Early in our careers the skating community would be confused as to whether or not we were actually related or even at times, the same person, which for me, was an honor. You’ve left your mark in this world, in all of our hearts. Your kindness and your talent will never be forgotten. You will be missed dearly. Til we meet again, brother. #TenBrothers” (Jeremy Ten)

“We have lost a fellow Olympian, a great skater and a good man. Deep sorrow in my heart and all my thoughts to Denis’ Family, friends and fans” (Gwendal Peizerat)

“Words fail me at the tragic loss of skating family member and friend Denis Ten… a loss not only to his family and friends, as well as to the world of figure skating, but to his community in Kazakhstan. Your spirit and joy will be missed. Rest in peace, dear Denis” (Rachel Flatt)

“Read through the many, many posts in dedication to Denis and you’ll see as many things written about his character as his skating. What a wonderful legacy to leave on those around you. Gone too soon, but most definitely not forgotten” (Kirsten Moore-Towers)

“We all have no words to say, but one word we should say: #ThankYouD10 for everything” (Misha Ge)