Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier have both called the 2016-17 figure skating season, their “comeback year.” They returned from a frustrating year off to win their first U.S. pairs title. Denney and Frazier are now looking to carry that momentum into a new season as they prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Here’s more on their skating career and how their partnership began.
1. Denney & Frazier Won the 2017 U.S. Pairs Title After a Year Off
Denney and Frazier returned from a year off to win their first U.S. pairs title in 2017.
They were in second place after the short program, but pulled ahead in the free skate to win by 2.04 over Sochi Olympian Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran.
The longtime partners scored a 122.93 in the free skate to come from behind and win with a total of 188.32.
“I think Brandon and I have worked so hard to get to the point where we are right now and we still have so much more room to grow and improve, so I’m happy though that that was enough for today,” Denney told reporters after their win.
“Wow, what a feeling,” Frazier said following their performance. “I don’t think I’ve felt this since we won junior worlds (in 2013).”
He added that a focal point of the season has been on improvement not perfection. They’ve experimented with more difficult technical elements in preparation of the 2018 Olympics.
“We’re trying harder elements, harder jumps, bigger throws, bigger twists,” Frazier told NBC Sports. “What you see is a couple of ups and downs. This is all building for the next season.”
2. Denney & Frazier Took Off the 2015-16 Season Due to Injury
Denney and Frazier had a breakout season in 2014-15.
They took silver at Skate America, then finished second at the U.S. championships to make the world championships team. Denney and Frazier finished 12th at the 2015 Worlds. However, their impressive progress slowed when Denney was hampered by an injury she suffered in April 2015.
She tore her ACL, LCL and meniscus during an off-ice training session, which required the duo to take off the entire 2015-16 season.
They returned to competition for the first time in September 2016. Denney and Frazier picked up where they left off— taking silver at Skate America, followed by fourth at Skate Canada and then their first senior national title.
Frazier called it a “comeback season.”
“We’re excited to be out here again,” Frazier added. “We’re back. This entire season has been a comeback season. We’re just getting our feet warmed up again.”
“Oh my gosh. I’m just so proud of where we are right now,” Denney said. “We’ve worked so hard through our ups and downs and everything. I’m just very, very blessed and appreciative to be here.”
3. Denney & Frazier’s Partnership Began as Roller Skaters in 2002
Denney and Frazier have trained together for nearly 15 years.
The two first connected in 2002 when Denney was 7 and Frazier 10. However, they didn’t start their partnership on the ice— they actually first competed together in roller skating.
Three years later, they made the switch to figure skating, and competed together for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. During that time, they were coached by Jim Peterson and Lyndon Johnston.
With their families living in different states, the skaters parted ways and found other partners. The two found their way back together in the spring of 2011. After re-connecting, they quickly found success—
winning the junior national title in 2012, followed by the junior world title the following year.
4. Denney Comes From a Skating Family
Denney’s parents, DeeDee and Bryan Denney, both competed in roller skating.
Her older sister, Caydee was also a competitive roller skater growing up. However, Caydee made the switch to figure skating at age nine after seeing Tara Lipinski win the Olympic gold medal. In fact, it was Caydee who inspired her younger sister to make the switch to the ice.
Caydee went on to reach her own Olympic dream— representing the U.S. at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games with her partner Jeremy Barrett.
Caydee and Barrett won the silver medal at the 2009 U.S. Nationals. They placed sixth at the 2009 Four Continents. The next season, they won the U.S. national title and a spot in the 2010 Sochi Olympics, where they finished in 13th place.
In 2011, Denney announced that she had teamed up with John Coughlin.
The pair went on to win the 2012 U.S. Championships. They won the silver medal at the 2012 Four Continents and then placed eighth at 2012 Worlds. They also claimed bronze at the 2014 U.S. Championships. However, they did not receive one of the two American spots in the pairs’ event at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Caydee and Coughlin announced in June 2014 that they would not compete in the 2014-15 figure skating season.
5. Denney & Frazier Were 2013 World Junior Pair Champions
Denney and Frazier found success early on in their partnership. The skaters captured gold in the pairs event at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Milan. Canada’s Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro took silver and Russia’s Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin jumped from seventh place to third.
Performing to “La Strada”, Denney and Frazier executed a triple twist, throw triple Salchow, triple Salchow, double Axel-double Axel sequence, a throw triple loop and difficult lifts.
Their routine earned them a score of 103.22 points, and allowed them to jump from third to first with a total of 155.83 points.
“I thought our performance was pretty good today. It felt like we fought through all our elements and I think that made us appreciate it even more. I had a lot of fun and was relieved when it was over. I don’t think it has sunk in yet, but I’m really happy and proud of Brandon on myself tonight”, Denney commented.