By Alice Park
July 19, 2018

Olympic figure skater Denis Ten, 25, was stabbed to death in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Thursday.

Ten, who earned a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and was a two-time world medalist, died of stab wounds after confronting thieves who were stealing his car mirrors on a street in Almaty, Kazakh Minister of Culture said in a Facebook post. Doctors attempted surgery, but were unable to save the Olympic skater.

Born in Almaty, with Korean heritage, Ten was an athlete of the world. He trained in Moscow as well as in California and competed in three Olympic Games. Ten was only the second singles skater to represent Kazakhstan at the Olympics.

Stunned figure skaters whom he had befriended during his long competitive career from around the world expressed grief and disbelief at Ten’s passing on social media.

“He was so kind to everyone and a huge inspiration to me and so many other people,” wrote U.S. Olympian Adam Rippon on Twitter. “Your time with us was way too short. Love you forever.”

Canada’s Patrick Chan wrote “I feel so honored and grateful to have shared the ice with [Denis]. One of the most beautiful skaters to have graced our sport…I feel so lucky to have made memories with Denis that I will cherish forever…”

Alex Shibutani, 2018 bronze medalist for the U,S. in ice dancing, skated with Ten in various shows as well as in competition and posted a video he made of his friend‘s Olympic experience. Explaining Ten’s twitter handle, he recalled that he and his sister and ice dance partner, Maia, “convinced Denis to join Twitter when he visited us one summer in the U.S. I’m pretty sure the “DenisTen” Twitter handle was available, but Denis was always different. He flipped the first letters of his name, and that’s why he’s @Tenis_Den on Twitter.”

Johnny Weir, who expressed disbelief when Ten’s sparkling performance at the 2013 World Championships earned him a silver behind a flawed performance by the gold medal winner, tweeted “Completely devastated by the passing of Denis Ten. This is such an incredible loss and tragedy.”

Meryl Davis, 2014 Olympic gold medalist from the U.S., sent her thoughts to Ten’s family. “Denis your heart, passion, kindness & generosity will not be forgotten. My thoughts are with your family, friends & fans whose lives you’ve made brighter. What a devastating loss for our skating family.”

Javier Fermandez, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist from Spain, posted a picture of himself with Ten on the podium. “Rest in peace,” he wrote.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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