Motivation | Olympics | Personal Development | Sports | Teamwork
After an initial tryout more than five years ago on a practice rink, John Baldwin and Rena Inoue decided to continue skating as a team. Because of that decision, they won the U.S. Championship in 2006 and finished an impressive seventh at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the best full-field international finish for a U.S. pair since the 2002 worlds.
Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Inoue made history at the 2006 U.S. Championships by completing a throw triple Axel and made Olympic history with the same throw. No pairs team has ever completed the move before. The two are a team on and off the ice. "I wasn't worried directly about the throw triple Axel," she said. "I just wanted to make sure each position beforehand was right. Once I took off in the air, I try to pull back, keep myself straight. I just have to trust myself that it's going to be there."
Rena Inoue (pronounced "Renna" and "in-KNOW-we") is a two-time Olympian for Japan in singles and pairs.
John Baldwin has been on the U.S. National team as a singles skater since 1986. His accomplishments include a U.S. National Senior Figures (1995) and U.S. National Novice Championship. He was also a World Junior Bronze Medalist.
Ms. Inoue started skating when she was four. As a child, she suffered from severe asthma and her doctor suggested that her parents enroll her in figure skating and swimming. The figure skating took hold and by the age of 15 she was skating in her first Olympics for Japan in 1992.
In the 1994 Olympic games, Rena Inoue competed both in pairs and singles for Japan. When asked why she skates her response is simply because she loves it. Her goal is not to fulfill some dream or expectation but simply to do what she loves to do--skate.
Before deciding to focus exclusively on skating, Ms. Inoue was attending medical school and working at Japanese Medical in Los Angeles.
Mt. Baldwin grew up at the ice rink first watching his parents skate and coach and then learning from them as he took to the ice for the first time at age two.
As a toddler living in Dallas, John Baldwins's parents had no choice but to bring their young child to the rink while they trained and coached (his father was World Professional Champion, Junior National and Pairs Champion, and an alternate for the 1972 Olympics and his mother coached him and his two siblings). Not surprisingly, he started skating about the same time he learned to walk and has been a U.S. team member since 1986.
Mr. Baldwin turned to pair skating after coming to the realization that he could not compete with the quad jumps the Senior Men were mastering. Not ready to end his competitive career, he and his father began the search for a partner.
John Baldwin's search for a partner ended when he saw Rena on a practice session. He did not try out with another skater. He knew that she was unique in that she was the only skater with the strong jumps and prior experience necessary in order for the pair to develop into a competitive team.
When asked about his goals for skating John Baldwin responds that his goal is the day-by-day satisfaction of training. He feels good at the end of a hard practice and he recognizes that it is his respect for Rena Inoue and their hard work that has allowed them to come together as a team.