I didn’t win.
Still, I’d like to continue to remember the lives of people who have passed away, instead of the fact that they are no longer with us. So, this is what Denis Ten meant to me. Feel free to read this, or feel free not to.
When I first started getting into mens’ skating, one of the things I admired especially from them was the speed and command of the ice, maintained along with very relaxed body positioning, from skaters like Patrick Chan. To this day, very much due to my long time coach’s prioritization of skating skills, I’m still so impressed the male skaters that have the best crossovers, no matter what their technical content is. Some other skaters that I’d say have this quality are Jason Brown, Ross Miner, Yuzuru Hanyu, and, of course, Denis Ten. There are very few skaters who move across the ice the way Denis did. We was able to get so much speed throughout his programs, yet he was still so light on his feet. Even the twizzles he does in his step sequence have the speed and ice coverage of an exceptional ice dancer. They way he could combine long sweeping edges and fast-paced toe steps in one step sequence is something that I think is rivaled by very few skaters in the history of the sport. Not bad for a skater who had to wear skates with water bottles attached to them as a kid. The program that I believe shows his absolute best skating abilities would be his Caruso short program from the 2014-15 season. It's a program that I believe works perfectly for his great talent in skating skills and his calm yet strong performance style.
I have to say, I do not believe I appreciated Denis's ability to perform as much as I should have. Looking back, I'd say he expressed himself during his programs in a very relaxed way, not to say that he wasn't working hard, of course. It takes so much time and effort to lose tension in your shoulders and hands, sink completely into your knees, and keep your hips directly under shoulders. These are all things that I have struggled with greatly as a skater, and watching skaters like Yuna Kim and Yuzuru perform without this mistakes is so inspiring to me. For the longest time, I hadn't truly noticed that Denis had this quality as well. The relaxed quality that these skaters have is something that I think is somewhat lost in our current world of international figure skating, and I'd like to see it be recognized and rewarded more in the future.
One last thing I have really admired about Denis is all he has done for skating and winter sports in his country. He grew up in a country that had no indoor rinks, and he helped turn it into a well-known country in the world of figure skating and a bidding country to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The dedication he had to his training turned him into an Olympic medalist, a World medalist, and a national sports hero for Kazakhstan. Through all of his accomplishments, he still dedicated his performances to his fans, instead of himself.
I believe Denis Ten was a phenomenal skater and and wonderful person. His incredible character really showed through everything he did in his life, and his impactful personality will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Denis.