Photo Courtesy of Justine Chiu

As is frequently the case with the Figure Skating Boutique Summer Free Skate in Thornhill, Ontario – there are surprise entries and some great skating. It is always interesting to see a new program at the beginning  and observe it and the skaters as they evolve and develop over the course of the season.

With one thing and another, I was only able to attend the competition on Sunday and after a quick review of the entries, I had my sights set on people I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of interviewing. Among them, Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t tell you that I am a fan.  The first time I saw Denis was probably at Skate Canada almost 3 years ago but the time I really remember him was from Worlds that same year. He has an innately elegant posture with tremendous musicality.

Truth be told, fellow skating warrior princess (so far it’s just us – anyone else want in?) and photographer Justine Chiu ( was the one who spotted him and asked me on the way to the car if I had been able to interview him. I said that I had missed him – she said “You’re kidding!  You walked right by him.” I sprinted back inside the building and begged him to talk to me and even though his Mom was standing there car keys at the ready, he said yes.

It is August, so allowances have to be made for how programs are performed at this time of year, nevertheless – Ten’s attention to detail and musicality is undeniable. I said “Nice triple Axel.” He said “On the warm-up 🙁 ”

Yesterday’s free program from Thornhill:

To say that Denis has struggled the last couple of years would be a fair statement although it would need to be tempered with an equally fair statement that he has grown. if you have been in skating for any length of time, how quickly a young person grows can have a huge impact on their jumps and I believe this was the case with him.

Denis’ training location is currently Lake Arrowhead, California under the guidance of legendary coach Frank Carroll with input from Rafael Aratunian.  Choreographer Lori Nichol used Rachmaninoff for the Short program and Astor Piazzolla for the Free as backdrop for his lyrical style. “I like everything about my new training location. last year was tyough for me and I am looking to become more consistent”  He even hints at wanting to include a Quad Toe this season as his first jump in the free.

When asked what he would be doing if he weren’t a skater – he says: “Maybe music – I used to play the piano or I love films and I would love to be an actor. Now, I am a skater and this is my life.” Not only is he a skater, he is a young man who is completing university courses by correspondence from a University in Moscow with his focus on Law.

With a schedule this season that will include Nebelhorn, Skate America and Skate Canada, I wondered if he has his sights set on Sochi in 2014. Grinning, he said “It is hard to say, I still have 3 years so it is still a long way away.”

Some more thoughts from Denis:

Ten’s favourite skater is Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin whose influence can be felt as he defines figure skating in this way: “Skating is…passion, it’s a fight, a challenge and it’s inspiration for kids.”

Skating as inspiration – works for me 🙂


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