Kazakhstan's first Olympic medal-winning figure skater died on Thursday, sending fans and fellow athletes around the world into mourning. Olympians are sharing tributes to Denis Ten and celebrating what they described as his extraordinarily kind spirit and beautiful skills on the ice.
According to the Kazakhstan-based outlet Kazinform, Ten succumbed to stabbing injuries in the hospital after he was attacked by two men in Almaty, a large city near the southern border of the country. The Guardian reported that the men had been trying to steal Ten's car mirrors and that officials consider his death to be a murder.
News of Ten's death spread quickly around the globe, months after he'd been on the world stage for an entirely different and happier reason: the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. He came in 27th place — a lower ranking than he was used to after a season he called "very difficult" because it was full of injuries — but remained optimistic about future games.
Ten became Kazakhstan's first figure skater ever to win an Olympic medal in 2014 when he achieved a bronze in the men's free skating event at the games in Sochi. He was 20 years old at the time. The award meant a lot to Kazakhstan, and the country heavily mourned Ten's death on Thursday. "This is an unthinkable tragedy and irreparable loss," said Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, the country's minister of culture and sport. "Denis Ten was an incredible figure skater, the legend of our sport, our pride."
But Ten's reach extended far beyond Kazakhstan. Olympians from all over the world shared heart-wrenching tributes to him on Twitter.