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Olympics: Odd boots key to Denis skating bronze

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Figure skater Denis Ten admitted that he was stunned to find himself on the Olympic Games men's podium with a first medal for Kazakhstan after skating with two different boots.

The 20-year-old climbed from ninth after Thursday's short programme to take the bronze amid the carnage of the men's free skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace on Friday night.

Ten was the only one of the top seven to skate clean, with teenager Yuzuru Hanyu claiming a first gold for Japan despite falling twice ahead of three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.

During this week's competition, he even skated in two different boots.

"He had the left skate from one pair and the right skate on from another pair," said his American coach Frank Carroll, who led Evan Lysacek to the men's gold in Vancouver in 2010.

"We tried six pairs and he had one left and one right that were decent."

Ten didn't even wait around after his skate to Shostakovich's "The Lady and the Hooligan" which included a quadruple and seven clean triples.

"I watched the performances on the TV in the gym. Someone came in and said, 'Well you might have to go out and get on the podium'.

"I had to go back and change into my skating clothes," said Ten, who is a descendant of General Min Keung Ho, a renowned Korean independence fighter.

"I didn't watch the skaters from beginning to end. But I know everyone had to fight for their jumps."

After claiming silver at last year's worlds behind Chan, Ten had high hopes for the Olympics but saw his campaign undermined by a skin infection, back pain, an injured ankle and painful dental surgery.

"It's ironic I had so many things to go through on the way to win this medal," said the 20-year-old, whose family belong to the country's Korean minority.

"Today is a very big accomplishment winning the first medal for my country," said Ten.

It is the second Olympics for Ten who was 11th in Vancouver.

"I'm not the youngest any more. That's the main difference. And I went into Vancouver with no pressure. This time, I came in with a world silver, so I had pressure coming in," he said.

"This is a gift to my compatriots and to my country. I hope it's not the highest achievement in my life."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140215/olympics-odd-boots-key-denis-skating-bronze