Ellenton skaters qualify for upcoming international contests

ELLENTON — Skaters who have been training at the Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex came home flush with medals from last week’s 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, and some will be going on to represent the United States in international skating contests.

Caydee Denney, 15, of Wesley Chapel, and Jeremy Barrett, 24, of Bradenton, took silver medals last week in the Senior Pairs division, while teammates Amanda Evora, 24, of Bradenton, and Mark Ladwig, 28, of Parrish, took fourth place.

“We did basically our two best performances ever, and considering we’ve only been together skating eight months, we were very happy with it,” Barrett said Tuesday of his skating in Cleveland.

Denney and Barrett’s win sealed a berth representing the United States at the 2009 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, slated for Feb. 4-8 at Vancouver, British Columbia, said Stephanie Nolan, marketing director for the Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club, with which the skaters are affiliated.

“It’s the Olympic warm-ups for the venue, so they’ll actually be competing in the rink where the Olympics will be held next in February of 2010,” said Jim Peterson, who coaches the team along with Lyndon Johnston.

“It’s so prestigious,” said Peterson. “Obviously, Caydee and Jeremy clearly earned that spot. Especially for a team that hasn’t been together a year, to win the short program and come very close in the long program, is a huge feat. I’m extremely proud of them, and proud they’ll be representing the U.S.”

The pair will also be skating for the United States during the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships, slated for March in Los Angeles, he said.

Taking a gold medal in the Junior Pairs division during the national championships was Tracy Tanovich, 12, and Michael Chau, 18, both of Bradenton.

Haven Denney, 13, of Wesley Chapel, and her partner, Daniel Raad, 21, of Parrish, took second place and the silver medal in the Novice Pairs division.

Three sets of skaters also will be showcased Saturday on television from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. during the U.S. Figure Skating “Skating Spectacular” airing on NBC, Nolan said.

“I’m a veteran skater, and we’ve been together seven years, we’ve been to seven nationals, it was really overwhelming to skate the program of our life at nationals,” said Evora on Tuesday. “It has just a great feel about it.”