Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten was stabbed to death Thursday during a confrontation with car thieves in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Ten, 25, won bronze in the men's singles competition in the 2014 Sochi Games, becoming Kazakhstan's first figure skating medalist. At the time, he called the medal, "my gift to my compatriots."
He was in downtown Almaty, his hometown and Kazakhstan's largest city, around 3 p.m. local time Thursday, when he encountered thieves trying to steal the mirrors off his car, according to the Kazinform state news service.
He was stabbed in the right thigh, losing a significant amount of blood, and was rushed to a nearby hospital and died several hours later, the news service reported.
Ten is a member of Kazakhstan's Korean minority and left the country at a young age to train with skating coaches around the world. At age 10, he moved to Moscow, then later moved to California to train with renowned coach Frank Carroll.
He was expected to contend for a medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, but finished 27th, hampered by ankle, hip and back injuries.
His medal in 2014 captivated fans from around the world who saw a little-known skater from a country known by many at the time as the homeland of movie character Borat jump from ninth place on to the podium with a near-perfect round.
Afterward, Ten told reporters that "many fans of mine, they moved to Kazakhstan for the whole summer to study the language. They wanted to know more about Central Asia.
"It's actually a true story," he insisted. "I can give you the contacts of my fans."
His death sent shock waves through the skating community. Johnny Weir, the skater turned NBC analyst, wrote that he was "completely devastated" by the news, and that Ten "was as bright and kind as he was talented." Canadian ice dancer Scott Moir wrote that "it was an honour to share the ice with him."
"Denis, thank you for showing us how to be a champion," wrote American skater Adam Rippon. "Your time with us was way too short. Love you forever."