ELLENTON — Caydee Denney has dreamed of going to the Olympics ever since she was a little girl.
As a child, the 16-year-old would imitate Tara Lipinski and other professional figure skaters in her living room. And when Lipinski won gold in 1998, Denney stood on a chair, pretending it was a podium, and had her mother place a medal around her neck as if she too had won gold.
Now 12 years later, Denney, who trains at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex with partner Jeremy Barrett, is headed to Vancouver to represent the United States in pairs figure skating at the Winter Olympics.
Denney and Barrett, along with fellow pairs skaters Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, reminisced about their childhood dreams of skating at the Olympics during a press conference at the ice rink Feb. 4.
“When I was little it was a big goal of mine,” Denney said. “I stuck with it and now it’s coming true, so it’s very exciting. I’m just really excited to go and experience the whole Olympic experience.”
Her partner agreed.
“It was a huge goal of mine as well,” Barrett said. “I don’t know how realistic it was, but I think every kid that puts on a pair of skates has that dream of going to the Olympics. So it’s exciting that we accomplished it.”
Denney, Barrett, Evora and Ladwig will depart for Vancouver Feb. 8. The Olympic Games begin Feb. 12 with pairs figure skating scheduled for Feb. 14-15.
The pairs earned their spots after finishing first and second, respectively, at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash. Jan. 16.
“We’ve just been training on cloud nine and we’re taking that cloud all the way to Vancouver,” a smiling Evora said. “I want to see this as a celebration performance. Getting to the Olympics has always been our goal, and we just want to go out and do our best and skate our hearts out.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].