I am a single dad trying to help my 17 year old daughter represent USA in Short Track Speed skating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. I would also like to be in South Korea to cheer her on.
Maame Biney seems like the typical teenager. She giggles with her friends, is making her way through the Harry Potter movies and wants to go to homecoming.
But that’s where typical ends for the 17-year-old speed skating phenom.
Biney is on a path to be the next great U.S. short track skater with the Olympics six months way. The junior world championships bronze medalist won the World Cup qualifier this weekend against Olympians and skaters 10-plus years her senior.
She won three of six finals over the three days and should be named to her first World Cup team on Tuesday.
"How did you get into speed skating?"
Maame: When I first came to the U.S. in 2005, my Dad I and I were driving in downtown Reston one afternoon when he came across a sign that said "Learn To Skate This Fall". So he asked me if would like to try it. I immediately said yes even though I did not know what that was because in Ghana, Africa there is nothing called an “ice rink”. The only words that people attach ice to are ice cold beer and iced water. I had never seen an ice rink before.
In the fall of 2005, my Dad signed me up for figure skating lessons. On the first day, I got on the ice my Dad was really scared. He was asking himself what he had gotten himself into because he thought I was going to split my head open on the ice but I made it off the ice in one piece. When my Dad saw that my head was still intact he asked if I would like to come back the following weekend for another lesson and I said yes. I did this for about four months. Then one day the instructor told me I was skating a little too fast for figure skating so I should try speedskating. The figure skating instructor was also a speedskating coach at Fort DuPont Ice Arena in the nation's capital so she told me later that she immediately recognized a speed skating talent.
The instructor told my Dad that the speedskating lessons are free but there is a catch - we would have to get up early on Saturday mornings and be in the rink by 6:30 am. My Dad agreed to do it. At the Fort DuPont Ice Arena there was an Olympian coach named Nathaniel Mills. Coach Mills really encouraged me by telling me in front of all the other young skaters that I was the best-dressed skater. He repeated that every Saturday after practice. That motivated me to come back every Saturday morning because I loved hearing that from him. There were times my Dad did not want to wake up early in the morning to take me to Fort DuPont Ice Arena in Washington, DC so I had to drag him out of bed. During one of Coach Mills’ annual speedskating competitions, Mrs. Choi, the president of defunct Leading Edge Club, invited me to practice with her club in Rockville, MD. That was when I really got into Speedskating under Coach Yumi Kim. In 2010 I joined DS Speedskating that later became Dominion Speedskating, and my teammates and I have been skating together ever since.