Remembering Denis Ten
I find it quite bittersweet that my first post here on Medium will be about something heartbreaking but at the same time befitting for someone who touched my life quite unexpectedly.
Denis Yuryevich Ten was a celebrated figure skater from Kazakhstan known for being the 2014 Winter Olympics bronze medalist and a two-time World Figure Skating Championship medalist (silver in 2013 and bronze in 2015).
He has also won gold medals in the Four Continents Championships, Asian Winter Games, and the Winter Universiade to mention a few. He basically put his country in the figure skating map with his elegant skating.
Denis was a well-rounded skater with strong technical skills and graceful artistry. He had captivating programs that exudes elegance on ice. But he was also riddled with rough seasons due to injuries. Nonetheless, at times when he cannot give a flawless skate, you can clearly see that he gave such performances his all and made the audience happy.
Here are some of my all-time favorite programs of his:
Denis was proud of his heritage and keen to share the beauty of his nation to the world through his efforts. As his country’s pioneer in the sport, he paved way to showcase his country and his love for skating by organizing ice shows in Almaty. He even went as much as helping with the visas for people who went to see his shows. And as a respected athlete, he was also the official ambassador for the Olympic Bidding Committee of “Almaty 2022”.
Not only was he a beloved sportsman but also a charming, witty and likeable guy on and off ice. I had a nice chance of actually interacting with him on social media via Twitter. Yes, he interacted with his friends and fans on social media which I found very down-to-earth given that not a lot of “celebrities” do it.
He was also one to take education seriously. In fact, he was working on his MBA in petrol industry at the Kazakh-British Technical University. And during those times when he had challenging seasons due to health issues, he managed to indulge himself in writing, music, animation and photography. Denis is remarkably a profound and an amazingly talented individual! It is his daily instastories that gave us an insight of how he lived his day-to-day and made us grew even closer to him.
Then July 19, 2018 brought forth news that not only devastated the figure skating community but also the world who knew Denis. It was reported that he suffered from knife attack injuries which resulted from an altercation in an attempted car robbery.
I read about the horrible news on Instagram while on my way home from work. Right there and then, I just burst into tears. It didn’t matter to me at how people gave me curious looks. I just don’t want to believe it! My heart broke when I opened Twitter and it confirmed my deepest fears… Denis Ten eventually died from severe blood loss. He was only 25.
I was really at a loss… we just lost a brilliant young man to an incident that never should’ve happened. It is easier to accept someone’s death because of sickness or a fatal accident and simply say it was his time. But Denis being a victim of an act of senseless violence?!?! Unbelievable and unacceptable! I was furious upon knowing that these criminals spilled his blood just for car mirrors worth USD86.00!!!
Mourned I did, but I had to cut it short because just three days after his death, I celebrated my own birthday anniversary. I felt torn and somewhat guilty that I should be happy and all when deep inside I’m still hurting. But I had to face people with a smile and say I’m okay.
At some point people asked me, “why are you so affected with the death of a man you’ve never even met for real?” Others thought I’m being overly emotional unnecessarily. But Denis is much more than just an Olympic figure skater and despite the fact that we haven’t seen each other in the flesh, he was as real to me. I participated in birthday or special projects for him and gave support messages during his country’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Yes, I’m a devoted fan so to speak. And our brief interaction on social media made him someone tangible and each time I watched him skate, I honestly felt connected to him.
I often wondered what Denis could be after he retired from being a competitive skater. I pictured him to be perhaps involved in contributing to the betterment of figure skating not just as a coach but someone who could improve the whole system. At times, I thought he could be an all-around artist whose works will be celebrated beyond that of his skating fans. Or maybe become an important figure in his country in the field of petrol trade. The possibilities are endless for him… but none of these will ever come true anymore.
Painful as it is, but his untimely demise reminded me of how fragile life can be and the best I can do is live it to the fullest. And he did. As I lit the candles at the Church on my birthday, I chose to look back on the good memories he has left us instead of dwelling on his loss. I’ll remember his optimism and sense of humor amidst adversity. His passion for the things he loved to do and his tenacity to overcome his own weaknesses. His great patriotism and his graciousness to the people around him. The very traits that won me over and made me root for him all these years.
Most importantly, Denis reminded me that failures are not the end and that he chose to learn from them and rise above such mistakes. Even if he was gone too soon, his legacy will live on. And I will live on remembering that in my lifetime, I once encountered a beautiful genuine soul.
Thank you and Rest in Peace Denis… you are loved by the world and I love you too.