It was Caydee Denney who was first introduced into the pair skating world many years ago. Shortly thereafter it was realized that Caydee had a sister, Haven, who had also become a pair skater. These two pair skating sisters have now been a part of the senior US figure skating world for the past seven years.
Though these sisters share a love and passion for the sport, they are at very different places in their careers. Haven Denney, along with her partner Brandon Frazier, have recently come into their own, taking the silver at Skate America in 2014 and becoming the 2015 US silver medalists. Meanwhile Caydee Denney, the 2012 US champion and 2014 US bronze medalist, is winding down her career and revealed in an interview on July 27, 2015 that she and her partner, John Coughlin, have determined to retire.
As Caydee transitions out of her competitive career her sister, Haven, continues her career despite being hindered by a knee injury. “My knee is starting to feel a lot stronger and a lot more normal,” Haven said during a phone interview on July 27. “It’s a slow process and you have to work really hard at it, but it’s feeling much better.” Though Haven and Brandon will be missing out on the Grand Prix season, they are both hoping to be back and competing at nationals. In the meantime, Haven is focusing on recovering and is anxious to return to the ice.
Thankfully, through all of the transitions and trying times throughout their careers, these two sisters have had each other to lean on. “I don’t know what I would be doing right now if it wasn’t for my sister,” Haven said. “We’re sisters and we’re best friends.”
These sisters started out roller skating, as their parents were a roller skating pair team together. Their parents coached them when they were very young and Caydee, Haven and Brandon were all in a roller skating club together. Caydee was the first to dabble into ice skating and soon fell in love with the sport. It didn’t take long for Haven and Brandon to follow suit.
It would seem inevitable for the sport to consume the family, but through it all they have worked to try and keep their athletic careers separate from their home lives. “When we’re at the rink it’s hard work, like a job, and when we’re home, it’s family,” Haven explained. “Sometimes skating will be part of a conversation, but it’s not consuming.”
Caydee and Haven’s mother, DeeDee, has worked hard to keep the family a priority. “We have always told them that sports are something that the girls do and love, but sports do not define the person who they are—it is quality of character and family values that defines them,” DeeDee said.
The only time that the two girls faced off in competition was at the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships, which determined who would make the Olympic Team. One would think that would create some animosity between the sisters, as the teams were fighting for only two spots on the Olympic Team, but instead of causing a rift between them it only drew them closer together. “I loved going into the dressing room at nationals and seeing Caydee, because it felt like home,” Haven expressed.
So what would happen if one of the sister bumped the other out of a spot on the Olympic Team? “It wouldn’t feel like a disappointment, it would feel like a celebration for our family,” Haven said. “We’re always a family and sister first,” Caydee added. It is this type of perspective that DeeDee and her husband have worked hard to instill in their two daughters. “More important than the skating is the relationships we have with our family,” DeeDee said. “If they have a win, we may celebrate with dinner and then move on to the next day. So whether its a win or a loss, the world is going to continue to rotate and their character as an individual is going to last forever.”
On the ice, these two sisters seem incredibly competitive, yet when it comes to each other they have nothing but admiration and respect. They are both grateful to be able to share the sport they love with the sister that they love so dearly. “One thing that I have always admired in Haven is that she is unaffected by a mistake or a problem,” Caydee said. “I’ve always been one to dwell on it more, so when I feel like I get stuck in those moments I remember how Haven handles things and how she picks up and keeps going and keeps persevering and that just helps me be a better skater, a better athlete and a better person.” Haven too admires Caydee and is grateful that she has a sister to talk with and help her through competition nerves and is motivated by Caydee’s work ethic.
Since Caydee is no longer competing, she now gets to cheer on her sister as Haven continues her career. “To be there on the other side and to watch Haven and Brandon follow their dreams, it’s very exciting,” Caydee expressed. “I remember being at Skate America and the US Championships and I was so nervous. I was more nervous for them than I ever have been competing myself in all my life. Watching them celebrate at the end, so happy knowing that they did their absolute best, that’s just the best feeling in the world, and that’s your little sister out there. It’s the coolest thing.”
For Caydee, watching her sister compete does make her miss competition, but she has no regrets about her career and is excited for what her future holds. “I’m very proud of my career and to keep moving from here,” Caydee said. “It was quite the ride.”
Though their careers may lead them onto different paths, it is clear that these two sisters are joined at the hip and will not soon part ways. It would be easy for these sisters to compete with each other and become rivals, but instead the sport has kept them close. “Having that person there that has your back and to have a friend involved in the sport that you love, it’s just something that is very special–it’s a bond,” Caydee said. “We recognize that and we appreciate that in each other.”