HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – There’s something magical in the air – or on the ice – at Sears Centre Arena for Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier.
It’s where the U.S. pairs skaters made their senior-level grand prix debut two years ago at Skate America. And what a debut it was. Denney and Frazier won silver for the best result by a U.S. pair at a grand prix in six years.
Friday night it marked the site of their first grand prix in nearly two years, returning for Skate America. And, once again, a silver medal is within their reach.
Denney and Frazier are in second place after the short program, where they earned a score of 67.29. Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead with 75.24, while Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau of Canada are third with 66.59.
“It felt really good,” Frazier said of their performance. “Wasn’t our best performance, but it was by far the best program we’ve been able to put out since our return to competition, and I think what we were really positive about is what we were really doing in our everyday training. We brought it out here to our first grand prix back.”
Denney and Frazier were sidelined from competition for over a year due to an off-ice training injury she sustained on April 22, 2015. While performing a double flip, Denney “just came down where my foot stuck on the floor, and my body kept rotating,” she told icenetwork.
She tore her anterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament and meniscus.
Denney kept all weight off the leg for six weeks and was finally able to return to the ice in October 2015. It took until January for her to perform jumps without the help of a harness.
“I think Haven and I both can agree that there were some really tough days,” Frazier said. “It took us a long time to get some of the elements that came easy to us in the past.”
While Denney and Frazier returned to competition less than a month ago with a fourth-place finish at the Nepela Trophy, Denney is still wearing a soft brace on her leg.
“It’s been a long journey and process to trust my knee again and get everything back, so we’re going to keep working hard,” Denney said.
“I’m very proud of my partner,” said Frazier. “She is truly a warrior and I’m very blessed with every day I get now to be back on the ice.”