Ice Skating

Former pairs champs Denney-Barrett announce split

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Another promising U.S. pairs team has called it quits.

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, the 2010 U.S. champions, announced the end of their three-year partnership Thursday. Barrett is retiring while Denney plans to continue skating and will search for a new partner.

''I feel I'm just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to what I'm capable of,'' said Denney, who turns 18 in June. ''My goal is to find a new partner and begin competing again by next season.''

The split is the latest setback in the long U.S. quest to find a pair that can contend internationally. A U.S. pair hasn't won an Olympic medal since Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard's bronze in 1988, and the Americans have made the world championships podium just once in the last decade.

That medal, a bronze by Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman in 2002, came against a watered-down, post-Olympic field.

Part of the problem is consistency. Denney and Barrett finished third at last month's U.S. championships, the sixth time in the last seven years that the previous champions failed to defend their title. Three of the last four champions failed to even make the world team the year after winning.

But another part of the problem is stability. Denney and Barrett's split comes less than a year after the breakup of 2008 and '09 champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker. Both couples began their careers with surprising success, leading many to hope they might finally be the ones to break the U.S. medal drought in pairs.

Denney and Barrett had been together all of about six months when they finished second at the 2009 U.S. championships, and they were ninth at their first worlds. They were 13th at the Vancouver Olympics, but climbed to seventh at the world championships.

But they never seemed to find their groove after switching coaches in the offseason. They were a distant third at nationals, and had to withdraw from last week's Four Continents after a freak training accident left Barrett with a gash in his calf that required 42 stitches.

Barrett, who turns 27 in April and is engaged to fellow pairs skater Amanda Evora, plans to coach and do ice shows.

''I feel happy with everything that I have accomplished,'' he said. ''I look forward to giving back to the sport that has given so much to me.''

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