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Figure Skating·Analysis

Denis Ten's death leaves figure skating community devastated

Denis Ten's senseless death has left the figure skating world shaken to its foundation. Devastated upon hearing the news, CBC Sports analyst Pj Kwong will remember Ten as one of the most genuine human beings she's ever met.

'I can’t believe that no one will ever have that brilliant light again,' says choreographer Lori Nichol

Figure skater Denis Ten’s biggest achievement was his bronze medal earned at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Back in the day, when my beat was covering figure skating on the Bold channel for CBC Sports, I would be responsible for providing commentary for every skater in every discipline from many ISU events.

This wasn't easy work and not all of the skating was good. The good news was it made me take note of names and faces of future stars, and with every competition, observe their evolution and progress.

Enter Kazakhstan's Denis Ten.

Having watched Denis skate at the 2009 ISU Four Continents championships in Vancouver, where he finished in ninth place, his was one of the performances I looked forward to during my marathon commentary sessions from the world that same year.

Ten, who was a two-time world medallist, 2014 Olympic bronze medallist and Four Continents champion may have struggled in competition, but not in terms of his expression and authenticity as an artist. I loved watching him skate and I'll admit to pulling for him to have a "good day" every time I saw his name on an entry list.

Above all, Denis was one of the most genuine human beings I've ever met.  

That's what made Thursday's news of Denis's death even more tragic.

Gracious in victory and defeat, Denis always made time for a video, a chat or a picture backstage at events. His candour in interviews allowed me (and the fans) to get a glimpse of the man, his relationship to skating and his special collaboration with long-time friend and choreographer Lori Nichol.

"He was to have arrived in Toronto next week to choreograph a short program. I was so looking forward to Denis's genius on the ice and his infectious laughter, and our deep conversations," said a devastated Nichol.

"I can't believe that no one will ever have that brilliant light again. We must now do everything we can to celebrate everything he did for skating, his family, his country and anyone blessed enough to have known him. It's an unimaginable loss to his family, skating and the world. I don't even know how to express my heartache for his family and his mother Oksana and for Denis's coach, Frank Carroll."

Whether it was bringing skating shows to Almaty, Kazakhstan or helping his country promote its bid for the Olympics, Denis Ten's name was everywhere. Articulate, intelligent, friendly, creative and above all else, kind, I can tell you his loss leaves a huge void in the figure skating community.

Skating didn't just lose one of its brightest and best today. The shock of Denis Ten's senseless death is overwhelming and felt around the world. 

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