Queens figure skater wins over Twitter with hip-hop on ice performance

“Jimmy Ma has cornered the market on hip-hop skating.”

Two things that don’t often go together but most definitely should: figure skating and hip-hop music.

Queens-born skater Jimmy Ma said he expected fans to be “hyped” about his 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships performance to the tune of “Turn Down For What,” but he never expected to become one of social media’s trending topics. 

“I had no clue that my performance would garner such a response,” Ma, who currently resides in Great Neck on Long Island, said via email. “I kind of expected people to be hyped up about it but I didn’t expect this kind of love for it.”

Ma finished in 11th place during the men’s competition on Jan. 4 in San Jose, California, but he probably came in first for most-talked-about performance of the evening. A member of the Skating Club of New York, Ma performed to the musical stylings of DJ Snake and Lil Jon during his nearly three-minute act.

Seeing a figure skater leap, spiral and rock out to “Turn Down For What” and “Propaganda” came as quite a surprise to the audience. His performance was met with intense cheers from the crowd of attendees and the 22-year-old gained a new Twitter fan base.

“I came into these championships wanting to just have fun and do my job,” he said. “Just doing what I love, you know? But beyond [that], I’m ecstatic people enjoyed my program.” 

Ma said he chose the song because he wanted to be “untraditional” and knew he had to select a melody that would be both recognizable and tell a story. He added that his figure skating coach Nikolai Morozov compared his performance to that of Daisuke Takahashi’s 2008 “Cyber Swan.”   

“Welcome to figure skating in the mid-, what is it, 2010s?” NBC Sports’ guest analyst Johnny Weir said to Olympic champion Tara Lipinski at the end of Ma’s performance.

Though Ma’s 2013 DJ Snake selection turned heads, it wasn’t the first time the skater chose hip-hop music for a performance. He skated to an Eminem medley at last year’s championship.

“Figure skating is an extreme sport,” Ma told USA Today after the competition Thursday. “I want the most amount of people to see that it is both an awesome art form and also an awesome sport. The whole point was to get people hyped. Get older people hyped and for younger people to think it is cool.” Mission accomplished.


Meghan Giannotta