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Justin Mentell, Apolo Anton Ohno

Brad Barket/Getty Images; Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Olympic athletes are trained to be ready for everything. Except this.

U.S. speed-skating champ and Dancing With the Stars champ Apolo Anton Ohno has spoken out exclusively to E! News about the tragic death of his "good friend" and onetime fellow skater Justin Mentell earlier this week.

"Justin's passing was a complete shock to me, as I just communicated with him a short while prior," the Vancouver-bound athlete said from his training grounds in Salt Lake City.

"I knew him since I was about 12 years old and we grew up skating together...He was always the one to make us smile in the group that we were with—either it was his perfected Jim Carrey impersonations (from Ace Ventura) or simply being goofy—we all knew that he would someday make it in the Hollywood scene."

Ohno & Co. were right—the 27-year-old Mentell, who died in a solo car crash in rural Wisconsin Monday morning, starred on the inaugural season of Boston Legal and appeared in a handful of movies.

"Not limited to his awesome acting abilities or desire to become a true 'actor,' he was an avid artist who became so involved with his work that it was refreshing. Such a fun, cool guy that I grew up with and spent many good meals with on my weekend jaunts to L.A.," continued Ohno, who, during his DWTS title run, was visited backstage by Mentell.

"Life isn't fair to all and he was too young to pass, but he reminds me to enjoy life—every minute of it. That the journey is the destination and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

"May he R.I.P. I'll do my part to make sure he lives on in our hearts and memories."

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One way to remember the actor: find out the Five Things You Need to Know About Justin Mentell.