Denise Benning is a retired pairs figure skater who competed on the world circuit in the 1980s. She skated to a fifth place finish at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
Benning was born in Windsor on September 1, 1967.
She moved with her family to Tecumseh in 1970, where she would attend St. Pius Elementary School and St. Anne’s High School. The Bennings called Tecumseh home until 1982, at which point they returned to Windsor.
In 1973, Benning took her first figure skating lessons with coach Cathy Janisse at the St. Clair Beach Arena. By 1976, she had joined the Windsor Figure Skating Club and started working with coach Dave Matheson. She entered several small invitational tournaments over the next four years in southwestern Ontario cities like London, Sarnia, Cambridge, Chatham, Hamilton, and Kitchener.
Benning joined the South Windsor Figure Skating Club in 1981, where she worked with coach Kerry Leitch. That same year, she earned an invitation to train at the National Pairs Institute in Kitchener on weekends and she began to compete in Western Ontario Sectionals.
Benning moved to Kitchener to train fulltime between 1983 and ’88. She returned to Windsor during slack periods in her training schedule and was able to complete her St. Anne’s degree by correspondence.
In 1983, Benning travelled to Montreal to compete in her first Nationals. She skated in the Novice category with partner Alan Kerslake from Winnipeg, finishing fourth. The pair also skated internationally for the first time that year, finishing seventh at a competition in St. Gervais, France.
The following year, 1984, Benning and Kerslake placed first at the Canadian Novice Championships in Regina, and fourth at the Prague Skate. 1985 brought a third-place finish at the Canadian Junior Championships in Moncton, a fourth at the Nebelhorn Skate in Obersdorf, Germany, and a fifth at the Grand Prix International in St. Gervais.
Benning switched partners to Hamiota, Manitoba’s Lyndon Johnston in 1985 and saw her career take off dramatically. Benning and Johnston skated to third-place finishes at Skate Canada and NHK in Japan that year. In ’86, they placed second at Skate America in Portland, Maine and fifth at both Skate Canada in Regina and the World Championships in Geneva. Benning and Johnston won their first two competitions – the Canadian Central Divisionals and an event in St. Ivel in England — in 1987. They added a second place finish at the Canadian Championships in Ottawa and a fifth at the World Championships in Cincinnati to cap off a successful year.
Benning and Johnston skated at the World Championships and Olympic Games in 1988. They finished in fifth place at both competitions.
After the Olympics, Benning enjoyed a brief spell with the Champions On Ice Tour in Canada. After her retirement from skating, Benning returned home and enrolled at the University of Windsor. She graduated in 1993 from the faculty of Human Kinetics with a major in Sports Administration. Benning did some coaching with the South Windsor Figure Skating Club during her time back in Windsor.
Benning — now Benning-Reid — currently resides in Toronto, where she works for the sports marketing group IMG. An Event Manager by title, she spends most of her time organizing figure skating events and corporate golf outings. Her past clients include the Stars on Ice Professional Skating Tour and the Export “A” Skins Game.