The former long-time Guttenberg resident was in the closing seconds of her final Olympic performance at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City Monday night and got so excited and caught up in the excitement that she actually started pumping her arms and fists, knowing full well that she had saved her best performance, along with partner John Zimmerman, for her very last.
Ina and Zimmerman were downright flawless in the finals of the pairs competition - an event that has now become more famous for the controversial ending than the performances themselves.
The three-time defending United States national champions were fifth entering Monday's long program, after struggling somewhat through last Friday's short program.
But after their spectacular performance "Variations on a Theme by Paganini," - one that brought the sold-out crowd of almost 17,000 to their feet with thunderous roars - Ina and Zimmerman catapulted themselves to the top of the charts.
For 45 minutes Monday night, they were in first place.
"It was such a thrilling moment," Ina said in a phone interview from the Olympic Village Thursday morning. "We wanted to skate the best we ever did and we were terrific. When we were in first, it went by too quickly. It didn't last too long. But we were really happy."
After they finished their program with a memorable lift, with Ina's skates resting gently on Zimmerman's thighs as they raised their arms in jubilation, Ina was spotted whispering something to her partner.
"I told him, 'Thank you.'" Ina said. "I said thanks for three and a half great years together. We thanked each other for such great times. We were just happy. We did our best and we knew it."
Ina and Zimmerman had saved their best for last. In their eyes, they were perfect. They nailed their side-by-side triple toe loop. Their throw-triple loop was magnificent. Their candle lift, perhaps their most recognizable maneuver, brought about the evening's loudest roar.
"I absolutely fed off that crowd," Zimmerman said in a press conference. "Halfway through they started clapping [in rhythm] and it was like a big hand giving me a push. I've been to a lot of rock concerts, and I've never heard a crowd like that."
"Absolutely, hearing that crowd is something I will share with family and friends for the rest of my life," Ina said. "There is definitely nothing to compare with it. It was so loud and so warm. It was such a chilling moment. It really was if we did win the gold. It was so great."
They also nailed the toughest move, their throw-triple Salchow. Perfection.
And the judges say...
After their performance, the two hugged several times, with Ina pounding Zimmerman's back, like the way a running back squeezes an offensive lineman after a touchdown in football. It was their Olympic moment, their gold-medal winning performance.
Only, it didn't result in a gold medal.
The stay at the top was short lived.
"Realistically, we knew that our stay there was not going to last long," Ina said. "Once the Russians took the ice, we knew that we were going to be passed. But we were hoping to hold on. It was so exhilarating that we did so well. That's all that matters."
Ina and Zimmerman eventually finished fifth and didn't get a medal. But it didn't matter to Ina.
"It was so much fun," Ina said. "In one way, I wish it could last another four minutes. But in another way, I'm glad it ended when it did because I don't think I could contain my excitement anymore. I was just so happy out there."
Eventually, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, who, like Ina and Zimmerman, train at the Ice House in Hackensack, won the gold in controversial fashion, defeating Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in a judging decision that has rocked the Olympics.
The Chinese team of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo took bronze despite a fall by Shen on an attempted quad jump. And Russians Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin maintained their place after the short program (fourth), leaving Ina and Zimmerman to maintain their own place, fifth.
Three days after the event, Ina seemed to think that the controversy surrounding the judging was overblown. "I can't say that they [Sale and Pelletier] were shortchanged," Ina said. "I've watched the replays several times and there are several reasons I can see why the judges gave the gold medal to the Russians. I really don't think there should be so much controversy. There are so many events remaining in the Olympics, and this is all anyone is talking about."
Added Ina, "As an athlete, I feel bad for the other athletes who are getting ignored because of this one story. We're still judging an event that took place three days ago. Nothing is going to change from it. We should all move on."
Ina and Zimmerman will move on - and together as a pairs team.
"We're definitely going to remain together," said Ina, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut now, but whose parents still reside in Guttenberg's Galaxy apartments. "Our future is uncertain. We're just going to take it day by day and enjoy this moment for as long as possible."
Ina said that she isn't sure whether they will participate in next month's World Championships in Nagano.
"This has all been so mentally stressful for us," Ina said. "It would be nice to go back to Japan, but I have no idea where we're going."
Eventually, the team will head for a professional career.
"We'll do something like that, but we just want to live this moment a little longer," Ina said. "We're just so excited. I wouldn't change a thing."
Ina then hesitated.
"Except maybe have a medal in my pocket," Ina said. "That would have been nice. But I'm so proud that we were able to represent our country and we lived up to that honor."