Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier: “We’re ready to step up to the plate and handle anything that’s thrown our way”

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier
Photo by David W Carmichael

The 2019 Internationaux de France will be the third event of the 2019–20 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating. It will be held at Patinoire Polesud in Grenoble, France between November 1–3. 

The two-time Skate America silver medalists (2014, 2016), 2014 CS Lombardia Trophy champions, 2013 World Junior champions and 2017 U.S. national champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier are among the competing skaters. 

They talk about their programs, the Lion King movie, their switch from roller skating to figure skating, their favourite Harry Potter books, and explain why they split up back in 2008 and paired up again a few years later. 

Your most successful Grand Prix event so far is Skate America, where you’re two-time silver medalists and placed third this year. Does that mean that skating at home, in front of the home crowd, is easier for you? 


No, I wouldn’t say that. When I think back to all the Grand Prix’s international skating, all the Skate Americas we medalled at, they were very tough competitions. They were stacked. And I remember we didn’t really think too much. We just gave our all.

I think competing in the homeland does bring a little bit more of that energy, that’s the benefit of it. But at the end of the day, it’s just the same as any competition. We just keep trying to perform our best.


I think we enter into any competition with the same goals and the same mindset. Whether it’s a little competition at our home rink, or the National Championships, or a Grand Prix, we try to treat it all the same. 

In the free program you skate to the The Lion King music. Do you impersonate the characters from the movie? Also, how did you like it compared to the cartoon?


Yes, I’m Simba and Haven is Nala. As for your question on which one I like best, well, both are great. They both are equally good. Watching the remake of the Lion King in the wild was really cool. There was so much more greatness to it. But I think the original will always be the best. 

Also, I like the ending of your program. It’s very creative. Does it symbolize anything?


Well, we were working a lot with this trick during the off season. Our coach John Zimmerman did it years ago, and we were like “That’s what we want to do.”

About a symbol.. I would say that in our program we try and make it very climactic. It starts mysteriously, then it slowly builds, and at the last minute it gets very exciting. So, that’s kind of what we’re going for. It’s like that last great thing to finish off the program.

Would you please tell me about your short program, what’s the main idea?


The short program is inspired by the Cirque Du Soleil. We’re trying to portray the imaginary characters that are bringing the audience into our world.

You’re both former roller skaters and you even won silver at Nationals. That’s quite unusual. How different is it from ice skating and why did you end up switching to  figure skating?


Some things are different and some things are actually really similar. Long story short, my sister was also a roller skater. She transferred over to ice skating because, unfortunately, roller skating is not an Olympic sport and she wanted to go to the Olympics. That was her dream when she was younger. So, she switched over to ice, and then Brandon and I just kind of followed her.

You split up in 2008 and then paired up again 3 years later. Would you please tell us about that?


You did your research (smiles). Seriously, most reporters don’t even know about that. Well, yes, when we were children, we skated together, and then, as we grew up, we hit an age where our families just had to go separate ways. But it wasn’t like we didn’t want to skate together.


Logistics situation. He was in Colorado and my family was moving. 


But we’ve always loved skating together. We’ve been through so many great ups in this sport, and then we’ve had some really disappointing downs, and a really bad injury. So now we’re at the point where  – obviously, knock on wood, we don’t want any more curve balls thrown at us, – but we’re ready to step up to the plate and handle anything that’s thrown our way. 

Even when things get tough, you can’t just say “Okay, there’s got to be a better situation.” We’ve pushed through thick and thin, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to rebuild, get ourselves some momentum, put ourselves in position for striking range, so we can try and make it to the Beijing team. 

My last question is very random. In your profile, you both said that you like Harry Potter books and Harry Potter movies. Which book is your favourite?


Oh my gosh, this is the hardest question ever. I really liked “The Chamber of Secrets”. The last one’s good, too. They’re all good. I can’t decide.


Mine is “Goblet of Fire”. I like it because of the competitor in me, and that book was a little bit more competitive.

Thank you very much for the interview. Good luck in France!

Ludmila ORLOVA