When Vancouver figure skater Jeremy Ten returned to the rink following a string of injuries, he was met by more than just ice—he was surprised with $8,000.
In late July, Petro Canada released $8,000 grants to 50 pairings of athletes and coaches across Canada to fuel their efforts in reaching the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"I just found out today," Ten said Wednesday. "I am thrilled, I mean, it's such great support, especially with everything I've gone through in the last couple months with the injuries."
For Ten, a 2009 nationals bronze medalist and 2007 Canadian junior champion, the 2011 season has gone less well than planned. He underwent surgery in January of 2011, following a year of reoccurring pain in his right foot, to repair a bone impingement problem. The surgery kept him off the ice for three months.
When he returned, lighting struck again. This time, in his left foot.
"I was doing a simple move and I just lost my balance," Ten said.
He sustained a left fibula spiral fracture. More time off.
"It's been hard because I haven't been able to train my programs. Everybody is training their new choreography and learning new skills for the new season coming in October," Ten said, who returned to the rink for the second time Wednesday.
The grant, he noted, will help relieve the many financial pressures that come with being a competitive figure skater, such as coaching charges, choreography bills, and injury costs.
"Figure skating is a very expensive sport," he said. "This grant is going to help me huge."
Financial support from the private sector plays a large role in aiding the progression of athletes, said Michael Slipchuk, Skate Canada high performance director.
Despite the federal government's announcement in January of $1.8 million for Skate Canada, the first time funding remained on par between the years before and after an Olympic Games, according to Slipchuk, private sponsorship is crucial to athletic development.
"I think it's huge," Slipchuk said of the Petro Canada grant. "Any of these […] opportunities that are out there for these athletes helps. Every dollar helps."
Ten, who was nominated for the grant by Skate Canada, hopes to overcome his career-jeopardizing injuries and find his way to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
"It's funny, some people may say, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ But I am so motivated to get back," Ten said. "I want this more than ever."
Ten, 22, began skating at the age of nine, when his father noticed his enchantment with the sport when Ten would watch figure skaters following his hockey practices.
"I would stick around and watch through the windows," Ten said. "My brother was a hockey player and I tried following in his footsteps. It was a terrible experiment."
Fitting into the right pair of ice skates, Ten said he looks forward to finding his way again.
"I hope that when I come back, I can inspire others going through something like this."