Alex and Maia Shibutani

Olympic Medal-Winning Ice Dancers

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At the Podium

Alex and Maia Shibutani made Olympic history at the 2018 Winter games but their story begins long before then. The brother and sister’s (affectionately known as the “ShibSibs”) memories of working as a team date back to their early childhood. While their familial ties and trust form the basis for their teamwork, their relationship as siblings presented unique obstacles in a sport that emphasizes romanticism and tradition. How the two created their own road-map to success that led right to the Olympic podium is an inspirational program about learning to develop and trust one’s own unique process when the outcome is uncertain. Equal parts funny, focused and determined, the Shibutanis take audiences along on their journey, from their upbringing and early successes, to obstacles they encountered and overcame, and into their Olympic experience.

About Alex and Maia Shibutani

Ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani are two-time Olympic Bronze Medalists, three-time World Medalists, Four Continent Champions, and two-time US National Champions. They have medaled at the U.S. Championships for 14 consecutive years, at every level and every year that they have competed. They have also won six titles on the Grand Prix series and are two-time Grand Prix Final medalists. They are two-time members of the US Olympic teams, competing at the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi Russia and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Maia was 4 and Alex was 7 when they had their first recreational group skating lesson. Although Maia was immediately entranced and asked for private lessons, Alex decided to continue skating only after he saw how much fun Maia was having. Once they began ice dancing together at the ages of 9 and 12, the two swiftly climbed through the ranks becoming U.S. Champions at the Intermediate (2006), Novice (2007) and Junior (2010) levels.

In order to pursue their training at an elite center, the Shibutanis, along with their mom, moved to Colorado Springs in 2005 while their dad remained in NY taking the red-eye back and forth for the weekends. Once again in 2007, Maia and Alex, along with their mother, moved to Ann Arbor, MI in order to continue their training with Marina Zoueva. As difficult as the separations were for the family, it paid off. At their first senior World Championships in 2011, Maia and Alex finished third, an almost unheard of achievement.

Despite their initial success at the senior level and their continued strong placements at international competitions, the duo did not land on the podium again at the World Championships for the next five years. Restricted by the sport’s traditional choreographic themes centered around romance and classical music, the duo began to forge their own unique path to success. This involved choosing contemporary music, as well as conceptualizing, developing, and producing the music for their programs. Off ice, the Shibutanis worked with dancers from hip-hop, ballroom, and modern dance to develop their own style of movement and choreography. Rather than become characters from traditionally romantic stories, the Shibutanis chose to tell their own personal story through their programs. Their genuine respect and appreciation for each other, combined with their shared trust in their process, helped them to realize even greater success when they won their first national title at the senior level in 2016 followed by a World silver medal that same year.

At their first Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, the ShibSibs were the second youngest team in the ice dance field and placed ninth in the overall competition. In 2018, they became the first ice dancers who are both of Asian descent to medal at the Olympics, and are only the second sibling duo in the history of the sport to share an Ice Dancing Medal.

They are sports envoys for the U.S. State Department, and were twice guests of both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry at U.S. State Department functions honoring the Prime Minister of Japan. They were members of the Athletes’ Advisory Commission for the LA 2024 Summer Olympics bid organization. Alex and Maia are Athlete Ambassadors for Right to Play and Figure Skating in Harlem. In addition they support The Jimmy Fund, and charity: water. Maia is a two-time recipient of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Travel and Training Grant.

When not on the ice, Alex and Maia can be found on social media. Their ShibSibs YouTube channel, launched in July 2012, has over 97 original content videos which have garnered almost 8.8 million views.

Speech Topics

  • An Evening with Alex and Maia Shibutani

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