Who are Maia and Alex Shibutani?
The brother-sister ice dance team of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are the two-time U.S. National champions. They competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where they finished ninth, and train in Canton, Michigan. They’re also known as the “ShibSibs” – a combination of their last name and the word “siblings” – throughout the skating community.
Figure skating beginnings
Older sibling Alex was born April 25, 1991 in Boston, Mass. Maia was born on July 20, 1994 in New York, New York.
Maia started skating at age 4 and Alex started skating at age 7, even though his first love was basketball. After starting off as singles skaters, their parents took them to watch the 2003 World Championships in Washington, D.C. They spotted the ice dancers, were impressed, and officially teamed up in 2004. Their first coach called them “Mac and Cheese,” because Alex would flash the judges a big smile. The duo has won medals at the U.S. National Championships at every level, from juveniles to seniors. They moved to train in Colorado Springs before settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Their training partners in Canton during the lead-up to Sochi included 2010 Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada as well as eventual 2014 Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Major competitions/ medals
Maia and Alex have won a medal at every national championship at the senior level since 2011 – two golds, three silvers, and two bronzes.
At the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Four Continents Championships, they’ve won a medal of every color.
At Worlds, the team has bounced around a little more. They won a bronze medal at their world championship debut in 2011, but were unable to get back on the podium for five years. In 2016, they earned a silver medal, and in 2017, they won bronze.
The siblings finished ninth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In Maia’s own words: “Success in our sport happened very quickly and naturally. Although there wasn't a specific breakthrough moment for us, our Olympic ambitions felt real during our first season as senior ice dancers (2010-11) after the Olympics in Vancouver. For that entire year, we received very good results culminating in our first Worlds medal when I was 16 years old. We were competing against people I had just watched compete at the Olympics, and we were on the podium with the reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists. That was the moment when it wasn't just a dream, but a real goal.”
The Shibutanis are the first U.S. ice dance team to win a medal in their world championship debut – they earned bronze in 2011.
The Shibutani siblings, or “Shib sibs” as they’re affectionately known, launched a YouTube channel in July 2012 as a way to scrapbook their journey. The channel documents their travel, competitions, and daily life to be shared with the fans. Maia is often seen in front of the camera, while Alex likes shooting, directing and editing. There’s more to it than a video diary, and the siblings often produce comedy skits and sketches that use their fellow skaters as actors.
“Our parents have supported and encouraged us to follow our dreams. Knowing that we've had that unconditional love has meant a lot to the both of us.” – Maia and Alex Shibutani
The Shibutanis will look to improve their ninth place finish from Sochi at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.
Outside the rink
When she was a little girl, Maia wanted to be a chef. She’s still interested in cooking, and both siblings describe themselves as foodies.
Alex is a huge fan of all Boston professional sports. He was especially excited to meet Bruins captain Zdeno Chara at the Sochi Olympics.
After competing at the 2017 Four Continents Championships, the siblings served as U.S. Sports Envoys. They were part of a discussion on sportsmanship and youth empowerment. They conducted a clinic for young skaters, learned to prepare Korean Buddhist food, and learned traditional Korean dances from students at an arts high school. And in 2012, they were invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to attend a dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s first official visit to the United States.
Facebook: Maia and Alex Shibutani on Facebook
YouTube: The ShibSibs on YouTube
Tumblr: ShibSibs on Tumblr