Click click. Click. Click…Send.
And with that, listening to the sound of the ocean on vacation in Mexico with his skating friends, Jeremy Ten finally wrote the end to his competitive skating career, telling Skate Canada by email that he was ending his miraculous final season on a high note.
Yes, Ten has retired, after a marvelous season in which he exceeded all expectations. Contemplating retirement a year earlier after missing the Sochi Olympic team, Ten finally decided to take one more year to skate the way he wanted to with certain goals: to get a quad in his arsenal, to get a Grand Prix (he got two) and to show up at nationals in front of noisy Canadian fans, attack his programs and skate with his heart on his sleeve. And he did.
But the season went so well – he earned the Canadian silver medal and a trip to the his second world championships after a five-year hiatus, and to the World Team Trophy, an event he had always wanted to do – that he felt the urge to continue, do more of this.
“There was a part of me that said: ‘Oh just do one more year, really have fun with it, keep going,’” Ten said. And then he thought about the welfare of his 26-year-old body. And reason reigned.
“I thought about the state of my physical being,” Ten said. “I just knew it wouldn’t work. Trying to learn a quad at my age, when you’re competing against kids who have been doing it since they were 17 or 18, and didn’t have to go through injuries, it takes a toll.”
Ten did get his quad at a stately age, during this past season (delayed because of a few seasons of serious injuries) and it came far more easily than his triple Axel. In fact, it was a lovely one, and he could do it with a triple toe loop in practice. But doing it in a competition setting was another story. During the six-minute warm-ups for Nationals, Four Continents and World Championships, he took hard falls to his left hip while attempting the quad. Always that left hip.
The jump was still new, and the smallest detail could throw it off kilter. Throw in a little adrenalin and a pumping heart in a compressed time frame of a warmup and down he went. While training the quad, he had never fallen like that.
“It’s one of those falls where you land sideways on your blade and you don’t know where you are, and you come down and you smack your hip on the ice,” he said. “As the season progressed, it was starting to bother me more and more.”
After a hard fall in the warm-up for the long program at Nationals, coach Joanne McLeod came up to Ten and told him: ‘We went to Autumn Classic without a quad and you did great there. I don’t think you should do it here.”
But Ten had trained all season to get that quad and he wanted to stick to the plan. He fell on it during the long program. Still, his performance was a triumph. When his marks came up, he saw that he was second in the free, and then he saw that he was first overall (with Nam Nguyen still to skate). “I thought I misheard it,” he said. “And then I saw the screen and then I just dropped everything. I think I threw my water bottle at one point.” McLeod burst into tears into his chest. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she said. Their reaction to Ten’s achievement was some of the best theatre of the event.
Ten’s best attempt at landing the quad was at NHK Trophy in Japan. At worlds and Four Continents the warm-up falls on the quad bothered him more. And he started to feel the wear and tear on his body. “I do want to walk in the near future,” he said. “I don’t want to get hip surgery before I’m 30.”
And the falls rattled him a bit, especially at the World Championships, because it was such an important event. He took out the quad for World Team Trophy, an event he said was “the funnest competition I’ve ever done.”
His short program – clean – at the World Championships in Shanghai was a triumph. “This whole season was about me trying to live out my potential and I feel that going to worlds and skating that short program was it for me,” Ten said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to do. And that made it easier.”
Just because Ten is leaving behind his competitive career doesn’t mean he will be standing still. On Friday, June 12, Ten graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in health sciences and a minor in kinesiology.
He’s currently dabbling in choreography, with hopes his career will head in that direction. He feels music and enjoys it and his forte was his artistic side. Ten is also coaching on the side, doing clinics, workshops and seminars. Last weekend, he did a seminar for the Alberta Provincial Team. A few weeks ago, he did another one in Canmore, Alta. and before that, he travelled to New Brunswick to offer up his knowledge there. He’s trying to book some shows, too.
“It’s time to grow up,” he said. He leaves the competitive side of the sport with no regrets now. He feels that he’s in a happy place and has a lot of opportunities coming his way. “I feel like I’m leaving the sport because it’s my choice and not because I’m being pushed out of the sport,” he said.