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Champions celebration planned at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex

ELLENTON — A young figure skating team – Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett — have trained together less than a year at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, but a silver medal in 2009 U.S. Figure Skating National Championship has propelled them into the world championships later this month.

It’s rare for a team in their first year to qualify for the world championship, but Denney, 15 of Wesley Chapel, and Jeremy Barrett, 24, of Bradenton, share a drive and work ethic that has made them succeed, said Jim Peterson, the team’s primary coach.

They focus strictly on their performance rather than worrying about the results of the competition, which is in the hands of the judges.

“They’re such a consistent team under pressure, the results were a lot quicker than we imagined,” Peterson said.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex will feature a free performance by Denney and Barrett along with others who placed in the top four in different divisions of the championship.

Amanda Evora, 24, of Bradenton, and Mark Ladwig, 28, of Parrish, placed fourth in Senior Pairs division. Tracy Tanovich and Michael Chau, both of Bradenton, landed a gold medal in the Junior Pairs division, and Haven Denney, of Wesley Chapel, and Daniel Raad, of Parrish, took second in the Novice Pairs division.

As Denney and Barrett prepare to head off to the 2009 ISI World Figure Skating Championship in Los Angeles, they have continued to work on their routine, tweaking details to improve their performance, said Lyndon Johnston, skating director.

“Those are the kind of things that make the performance more relaxing to watch and more appealing to see,” he said.

How the top two American teams place in the world championships will depend on how many slots American pair teams will have in the Olympics next year. If the two teams place more than 13 combined, the U.S. will be able to take three teams to the Olympics and with Ellenton potentially being represented.

While the pressure is on, Denney and Barrett are taking it all in stride.

“We weren’t even sure we were going to worlds this year. The fact that we made it was just a bonus and we just do the best we can,” Barrett said.

They have already gotten to do a lot this year, including traveling to Germany and performing in Vancouver where the 2010 Winter Olympic Games will be held.

For Caydee Denney, who has been skating since she was 2, she’s good as long as she can skate.

“With me, I’m just enjoying it. It’s not all the time you get to do things like this,” said Caydee Denney.

“I’m just enjoying and taking things as they come.”

Amanda Evora, who also trains at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex with her partner, Ladwig, owes her success to being together for about seven years. Pairs in America tend to split up more than in other countries, she said.

“I see pair skating like a marriage or commitment; you learn a lot as years go on — that connection with each other,” she said. “For more, on the ice it may be a job but I love what I do so it becomes one and the same.”

If You GoWhat: Champions Celebration Event

Where: Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex, 5309 29th Street East

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Cost: free

Jessica Klipa, Herald staff reporter, can be reached at 708-7906.

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