When she’s not with her other half – pair skater John Zimmerman – Kyoko Ina spends her time off the ice with her Pomeranians, Mitsuko and PJ. “They come to practices with me sometimes, but they don’t like the cold.” Mitsuko is only one-year-old and is the typical little sister -everyone’s favorite, but bratty. She’s also protective of the skater. Ina laughs, “my big Doberman was a little Pomeranian.” Ten-year-old PJ, named after Peter and Judy, Ina’s former coach and his wife who gave her the dog, is more of a mama’s boy, and she says, “is obsessed with me.” Not so mobile but equally loved is Ina’s nine-year-old Abyssinian cat Biscuit. The dogs and cat stay at her Greenwich, Connecticut home when she is on tour, as hotel pet policies can be spotty. Kyoko recently finished touring with Stars on Ice, a celebrity ice skating extravaganza, where she and John did their routine to Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses. Now, Ina says, she is ready for the summer. “I hope to be laying out on the beach in St. Barths or somewhere warm.” And will she bring the dogs? Of course.
Don’t think the summer heat keeps Kyoko out of the rink though. Although she anticipates a little R&R on a stretch of beach, mostly she will be running to keep in shape for the difficult lifts and jumps she and John have figured into their routine. She will then practice three hours a day on ice and one hour off-ice, executing lifts in front of a mirror with John. It is a grueling schedule for anyone other than a dedicated athlete who knows practice is intimately entwined with success. Ina remembers fondly the Olympics in Park City, UT – her third Olympic experience. “It was amazing – there is nothing like it. It’s great to skate on your home ice at the Olympics; the audience was amazing and even gave us a standing ovation. I got goosebumps. I had never felt so patriotic.” But the excitement of the Olympics was toned down significantly when she found out that Gizmo, PJ’s companion before Mitsuko, had passed on in the care of one of her trusted friends. “I was so grateful to my friend. Gizmo was 14 -years old. She brought him to the vet and gave him the best care she could.”
Although we like to think that their mutual love for animals inspired their pairing (John has two cats at home), the original decision was more pragmatic. “Our coaches got together and looked at each of us and saw potential there.” They had a keen eye, as the duo has been dazzling judges and audiences alike ever since. Never complacent, even though she has been skating since age 3, Ina is still in awe of the sport. “I love the throws. Being thrown by a partner, rotating and landing on 1/8” of steel is absolutely exhilarating.” At the same time, though, she loves getting off the ice and cuddling up with her two dogs, who she would give a perfect 10.
For the Best that Pet Lifestyle and Animal Welfare has to offer follow Wendy Diamond on Facebook, Twitter, and right here at AnimalFair.com!