Denis Ten: Focused on Consistency

Denis Ten

Denis Ten, an up and coming young skater from Kazakhstan, got an early start to the upcoming season. He competed in two summer competitions in North America and the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany in September.

“The season started very early for me. I competed at my first event in August and this was my third competition. I am step by step getting into shape,” Ten said.

Although he feels he is skating better now than at the same time last year, he was not pleased with missing the triple Axels in his free skating program in Oberstdorf or finishing in ninth place. “I still have time before the Grand Prix and for the competitions further into the year like Four Continents and Worlds, and I will be much better prepared,” Ten stated.

“My programs are a little bit raw, because we didn't finish our work with Lori Nichol. We didn't even decide on the final pose for the short and free programs yet, because there was not enough time. Before the Grand Prix I'll go to Lori again and we'll polish the programs. I hope everything will be more complete then."

For the short program, the 18-year-old is skating to “Elegy Op. 3, No. 1” by Sergei Rachmaninov and for the long, the Tango “Adios Nonino” by Astor Piazzolla. Ten chose the music together with Nichol, who has been his main choreographer since he switched coaches from Elena Vodorezova to Frank Carroll and relocated to California in the summer of 2010.

“We listened to music for like six hours, so many different variations, and we still didn't know what exactly we wanted,” Ten explained. “We listened to everything one after the other and at the end we were really tired, so we burned some music onto a disc because we didn't know what we would need. When we went on to the ice we just improvised with different music and in the end chose the Tango. We thought it was the best.”

Ten had used a Tango last year for the short program, which was choreographed by Stéphane Lambiel. “I think the Tango is a good school for me to develop. So I took a Tango again, but it is a different one. Last year it was a modern one and this year it is a more classical one,” he explained.

The original plan was to work with Lambiel again for the short program, but the Swiss embassy in Canada refused to issue him a visa, as he is not a Canadian resident. So he had to change his plans on short notice.

On the disc he burned with Nichol was also the Rachmaninov piece and he decided to use it. “I really like this piece. I am in general a fan of Rachmaninov,” Ten said.

Meanwhile, the teenager has adapted to his new coaching and living environment. “Everything is much more comfortable now than when I arrived last year in what was for me a foreign country. But now I am used to Frank (Carroll) as my coach. We have a good group. I'm skating with Mirai (Nagasu), other kids and Evan (Lysacek) has now come back. It is a great motivation to have such a strong team.

"Last year it was still strange to be at competitions with Mr. Carroll, but now everything has fallen into place and I am very pleased,” Ten explained.

He and his mother, Oksana, moved to California while his father and older brother Alexei remained in Kazakhstan. “They are both working and they don't have time to travel. We really want that they will have the chance to come and visit America,” Ten said.

“Half of the family is here, the other half is there, but it is so nice when we return to Kazakhstan and we are together again. We are appreciating this time more. I was in Kazakhstan in June. Since July I have been in America, so it has been almost four months. But what can you do? I am not complaining.”

Ten, who was ranked eighth in his Worlds debut in 2009 and finished 13th and 14th the past two seasons, is looking for consistent performances this year. “Last season it was hard for me to find my orientation,” he said. “This year, most of all, I want to improve my consistency. I won't talk about placements, because first of all you have to be consistent. I am working a lot on my skating skills. I don't want to be just a jumper. I want to learn how to skate well.

“I want to combine jumps and skating like probably all the skaters do,” he added with a smile.

At the same time, Ten is keen on adding the quad toe to his repertoire. “I am working on it and there is even a place for it in the free skate, because I really want to add it. It is hard to say something now, when I'll put it into the program, because first I want to skate consistently, but I really hope that I'll include it in the program and will show it in competition as the season progresses.”

Ten is scheduled to compete at Skate America and Skate Canada later this month. He is also considering competing in a couple of international senior B events in November or December.

Originally published in October 2011