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Before They Made History
Rena Inoui and John Baldwin talk about their goals with Scholastic Kids Press Corps.
By Toheeb Alejo
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Rena Inoui and John Baldwin with Scholastic Kid Reporter Toheeb Alejo
Rena Inoui and John Baldwin with Scholastic Kid Reporter Toheeb Alejo at Colorado Springs, Colorado, in October 2005.
(Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Los Angeles skaters Rena Inoui and John Baldwin made Olympic history the first day of competition at the 2006 Winter Games when they landed the first throw triple axle in an international competition. Although they placed sixth and are not favored to win a medal, the U.S. figure skaters were bursting with pride and aglow from applause after a very successful short program in Torino, Italy.

Inoui and Baldwin have been skating together for more than five years. Inoui, who formerly skated on the Japanese team, became an American citizen in October. As a couple, the "pair skaters" won the U.S. National Championship in 2004. The 2005 Championships were the 20th for Baldwin. He and Inoui landed the first throw triple axle in national championships in St. Louis, Missouri, in December.

Before heading to Torino, Italy, for the Olympic Games, they sat down with Scholastic Kid Reporter Toheeb Alejo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Q: How did you guys meet?
Baldwin: We met through a mutual friend of ours that was a skating coach and he suggested that we try out pairs.

Q: So how are pairs different from singles?
Baldwin: There are a lot of differences between pairs and singles. Mainly that you have someone else out there skating next to you and you have to be a unit. You have to do jumps and spins and footwork and match the person next to you, and that's the main difference between pairs and singles.

Q: Do you guys have any other hobbies?
Baldwin: Oh, absolutely, we play volleyball a lot and tennis and we go to the beach every other day. We live about 15 minutes away from the beach. We love eating out and go to restaurants about three or four times a week.

Q: Off the ice, do you learn each other's culture?
Inoui: I have never taught him any Japanese. We go to Japanese restaurants. I think he wants to learn Japanese, but I never taught him.
Baldwin: She keeps it secret from me. It's her secret language.

Q: How long do you plan to continue skating competitively?
Baldwin: Well, through this season. After the Olympics and then there's the World Championships after that and that may be the culmination of our amateur career.

Q: What are your goals?
Baldwin: This time we are doing a throw triple axle. I throw Rena three times around and that's never been done before, so that will be a milestone for us. That's one of our signature moves, the throw triple axle and the side-by-side triple lux.

Q: Explain how the throw triple axle works.
Baldwin: That's three and a half revolutions in the air. I throw Rena off of a left forward edge and she lands on her right back edge, goes up and rotates three times and checks out.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration on the ice?
Baldwin: Actually, we skate with Michelle Kwan in the same rink, so we get inspiration every day.

Q: What kind of advice would you give someone about how to reach their goals?
Baldwin: When you're getting involved in something like an Olympic sport, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance and it's not going to be easy. There are going to be times when you want to quit, but you just have to keep pushing through. The most important thing is to carry through with it.

Q: What's the most important thing you think of when you guys skate?
Baldwin: Well, when you're dealing with the same person every day, just trying to find out how the other person is going to react and find out where their body is going to be and just trying to mesh with each other and trying to become one on the ice. That only happens from a lot of time skating together. That is not going to happen from one year skating together. This is our fifth year together, and we are still trying to become one on the ice.


Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.