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Busy month for skaters

ELLENTON — The accolades are all over the inside of the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, praising the local skaters that represented the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics. But the Vancouver Games were just a preview of the hectic schedule awaiting Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett.

The pairs figure skaters wrapped up the Olympic experience and went right back to training.

That’s because the duo is competing at the World Figure Skating Championships in Turin, Italy beginning Tuesday.

Denney and Barrett are flying out today.

“I think that going into a competition knowing that you’re prepared,” Denney said, “and you’re trained ... that really helps.”

Fellow Ellenton skaters Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, who were runners-up at nationals and competed in Vancouver, are also scheduled to compete in the world championships next week.

Once they’re done in Italy, Denney and Barrett return to Florida. But it won’t be a vacation, just yet. The pair is taking part in the Smuckers Stars on Ice tour.

Barrett said they’re only scheduled for the four Florida dates for the tour, which is one avenue for skaters to generate income.

“Shows are a good way to make money, and we also teach here, so we get paid for that,” Barrett said. “We do odd jobs around the rink. I used to ride the zamboni ... so we do enough to support ourselves.”

Life as a figure skater — or any Olympian for that matter — is an arduous journey, steeped in disciplined training with the ultimate goal being a chance to represent his or her country at the Olympics.

For Denney and Barrett, just taking part in this year’s edition in Canada was enough of a thrill, even if earning a medal will have to wait until the next Winter Games.

The gold medalists this year were Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, who Denney and Barrett’s agent, Kendall Almerico, said have been skating together since before Denney, 16, was even born.

“Caydee and Jeremy have been skating for 18 months, the Olympic champions have been skating together for 18 years,” Almerico said. “The rise from the local rink to national champions, and Team USA members competing at worlds at 18 months is unheard of.”

After Denney and Barrett finished skating in Vancouver, they said they stuck around for the gold medal hockey game that the Canadians won in overtime against Team USA.

“That was intense,” Barrett said. “There was a small group of us wearing all of our USA stuff, and it was a good game, but we got out of there pretty quickly after it was over.”

The Smuckers Stars on Ice tour is scheduled to begin April 1. After that, a well-deserved vacation awaits.

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