Olympic speed skater Maame Biney partnered up with Red Bull for their ‘Break the Ice’ campaign and she’s using it as motivation this season.
Olympic speed skater Maame Biney never pictured a professional career in the sport she loves until competing in the World Junior Championships in 2015. She stuck with it as a kid out of enjoyment and for something to put on her resume but she didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to go professional when it presented itself.
Her hard work and dedication have undoubtedly paid off. She’s competed in several major international competitions, including the Winter Olympics.
Biney’s talents and skills made her stand out to Red Bull as well, and she’s now the face of the Break the Ice campaign that’ll release a brand new Red Bull Winter Edition Fig Apple flavor.
Biney spoke with FanSided about what being the face of this campaign means to her and offered many words of wisdom for others hoping to follow in her footsteps.
Maame Biney opens up about her career and what the Red Bull ‘Break the Ice’ campaign means to her
What’s your background in skating? How and when did you start?
I was originally born in Ghana. I came to the US, specifically Maryland, in 2005. I was supposed to visit my dad for a two-week trip, nothing too special or anything. I ended up staying a little bit longer, mainly because I told my dad I didn’t want to go back to Ghana. I wanted to stay here with him. He made plans to allow me to stay here.
A couple of months later, we were driving down a road and there was a sign that said “learn to skate.” He asked me if I wanted to do it, and I was like, “Dad, it’s a lesson for figure skating.” I think this was around October of 2005, sometime in the fall.
I did figure skating for a little bit. Then, during one of the sessions, my figure skating coach who was also, coincidentally, a speed skating coach, told my dad I was too fast for figure skating. She suggested I should try speed skating. I did and 17 or 18 years later, I’m here.
That’s awesome. So you went into the sport recreationally as a kid, and they guided you toward speed skating.
One hundred percent. My dad wanted me to do a sport. He really didn’t care what sport it was, he just didn’t want me to be in the house all day. He wanted me to be busy, basically.
I also kind of think that my figure skating coach, Coach Helen, saw that I had ADHD because I was probably moving so fast and just very hectic all the time. She’s like, “She needs to do something that will calm her down and let her waste her energy.”
So you have had kind of a long road with the speed skating. Do you have a certain moment in your career that’s been your favorite?
Yeah, recently when I made the Olympic team in December. That was probably my favorite moment because of the whole backstory of me getting injured throughout the season, not being able to do anything, starting really late and not having a good season. I ended up getting second overall at the Olympic trials, which was super humbling and amazing.
It was an amazing feeling because I didn’t expect it and I also skated the best I’ve skated in probably like three years, so it was really nice.
It’s always nice when you get back into something and you don’t really know what to expect, then it just goes really great. Do you have a pre-competition competition ritual or do you just go for it?
I wish I could just go for it. I always have my earbuds in and I always listen to R&B and low-zen-type music. I always have my Red Bull Winter Edition Fig Apple with me. Side note, it’s probably one of the best-flavored Red Bulls out there.
It has a really nice flavor and it’s perfect too because fall is coming. It has this really crisp flavor and has a hint of caramel and apple. It’s really, really good. I also always have my skates with me, as well as my rings. I have two rings that I wear all the time. They’re basically a good luck charm. Those are the things that I have around me all the time.
I’m gonna have to try that Red Bull. That sounds really good.
Yeah, you’ve got to. It’s so good.
That’s the perfect segue because I was going to ask you a little bit about the Red Bull campaign. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
When I was asked to be a part of the campaign, I said yes immediately. I just love the atmosphere that Red Bull always brings to shoots, it’s so fun. Even though it’s long, it doesn’t seem like it’s long. You know that phrase where it’s like, “The time goes quicker whenever you’re having fun?” That’s exactly what goes on whenever I do shoots with Red Bull.
The campaign is all about breaking the ice and just being true to yourself. I feel that it’s a perfect fit for me because I am a product of myself directly, sometimes a little too much. Most of the time it’s really good. I’m very grateful to have Red Bull as a company behind me and my team, as well as my friends and family.
It sounds like they do a pretty great job at kind of taking care of their people. How does it feel to kind of be like the face of that campaign now?
Oh my goodness, I don’t even know. I just feel like I’m a model or something. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, buy me a modeling contract” because they did such a good job. I feel so honored.
I feel like they could have chosen any other amazing Red Bull athlete, and they chose me and I just feel so proud and honored to be the face of it and a part of it.
That is pretty awesome. What does the campaign itself mean to you?
The campaign itself means, for me, to get out of my comfort zone and pursue the goals that I have in the future, particularly the next four years. As for the breaking the ice, it’s like I’m literally breaking the ice and I’m breaking records. I’m breaking my own records and world records.
I want to be able to use that as motivation for the next four years. I just want to be more aggressive on the ice and not have any hesitancy within my skating ability. I think I lost that a little bit in the last three years. I’m so excited to see where it takes me.
Definitely. So does being the face of that campaign almost feel like an extra push for you to be able to keep going? Does it set a fire in you?
Yeah, one hundred percent. The whole slogan of it just makes sense to me and makes me more motivated to make a trail, if that makes any sense. I don’t want to say it and then not do it. I want to be able to say and then do at times too.
So it’s kind of like, now you’re the face of this campaign and you want to live up to what it’s given. That’s awesome. So when you started skating as a kid, did you ever picture getting up to this point? Was there a journey going up to it or were you kind of just going with the flow?
Honestly, I was just going with the flow. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that I would be where I am right now. I feel like skating for me when I was around 12, 13 and 14 was kind of just something that I’d put on my college resume and then I’d be done with it. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
I was able to go to World Junior World Championships and do really well. Then, I went to a World Cup and did well there and went on to the Olympics. I did the best that I could do over there. I’m so happy that it led me to this because I also met some amazing people that I know will be in my life forever because they’ve gone through it all with me and they understand it.
I’ve also met people who haven’t gone through it with me but understand. I had never thought about doing it or never thought that this would take me to where I am right now. I’m so happy that it did.
It seems like it opens a lot of opportunities, and then more and more keep coming.
It’s so amazing, and it’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that come and I’m like, of course, I’m going take it. I’ll also get to tell my kids about it, like, “Yeah, your mom did this.” How cool is that?
That’s awesome. Was there a point in your career when you felt that shift between being recreationally competitive and pursuing a career? Was there a pivotal moment where you had to make the decision of going full force with it or continuing down a recreationally competitive path?
Definitely. I remember it was in 2015, after I came back from Bulgaria World Junior Championships. I didn’t make the previous one in 2014 in Japan, and I was so sad about it. Then, I made the next one in 2015 and I didn’t do well. I had a broken ankle, so that’s a little bit of an excuse.
Then I came back, and I was like, ‘I want to keep doing this.’ Not only am I able to represent my country in like a different in a different country. I’m also able to experience different cultures. I think that’s also where I’ve found my love of traveling.
That was my pivotal moment where I was like, I want to keep doing this. I also love skating. I was just like, “I really want to keep doing this” because I get to do all of the things that I’ve always wanted to do in my life all in one package. I feel like that was something that I couldn’t not say yes to.
Definitely, it kind of just opens up the door to let you go do more, travel more, see the world and get to do what you love to in the meantime. Is there anything you’re like looking forward to most upcoming this season?
Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to competing and getting back onto the World Cup circuit. I really want to get stronger physically and get my body in tip-top shape for the next couple of seasons. To be fair, after the Olympic season in March and April, I just kind of took a break. I checked out of skating. I did what I wanted to do, which was traveling, having fun and being a college student.
Then, I came back and I was like, “Okay, I’ve missed this. This is what I want to do.” I’m excited to compete and get stronger mentally and physically and push myself to places that I never thought possible.
Yeah, absolutely. So what advice would you give to anyone, maybe younger kids, trying to follow in your footsteps?
To definitely not be afraid to use your voice and to not listen to people who are giving you negative feedback and negative vibes in your life. At the end of the day, they’re not you. If you want to be able to be the first whatever in your sport, then be that because there’s a reason why you are the first and no one’s ever done it before.
Also, have fun doing it too. What’s the point of doing something if you’re not having fun, or if there’s not a bigger goal ahead?
I think that’s great advice. It’s always important to for kids to kind of feel like they belong. Sometimes they get into something and they feel like they don’t belong, but it’s definitely important for them to know that it’s okay to be different. Sometimes that will push the envelope and make them stand out even more, which is a good thing.
Yeah, exactly. Don’t be afraid to stand out because the brightest stars shine bright. I don’t know that phrase, but something like that.
Absolutely. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about that we didn’t go over?
I feel like I set it all. I’m really excited for the Red Bull Winter Edition Fig Apple to come out and for everyone to try it. I swear by it. It’s a really, really good flavor.
I hope that people who are starting out in a new sport or little kids, especially young black girls, use their voice and aren’t afraid to stand out, because why not? It’s okay.
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