Philadelphia

Meet Olympic Skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani Ahead of 2022 Games

Philadelphia
Maia and Alex Shibutani

When it comes to siblings in sports, no duo has a better nickname than American ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani.

Not Peyton and Eli Manning. Not Serena and Venus Williams. Not LaMelo and Lonzo Ball.

None have a more fitting moniker than the “ShibSibs.”

And unlike most brotherly and sisterly tandems in sports, there is no sibling rivalry between the two. No competition. Their success is fully dependent upon one another.

They’ve shared plenty of victories having skated together since they were children, highlighted by winning two bronze medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ShibSibs.

Who are the ShibSibs?

Maia Shibutani, 27, and her older brother Alex Shibutani, 30, are the sibling ice dancing team known as “ShibSibs.” Maia, born in New York City, and Alex, born in Boston, moved to Colorado and then to Michigan as they focused on their skating. Both attended the University of Michigan.

When did Alex and Maia Shibutani first perform together?

Maia first began ice skating when she was four years old. Alex, three years older than his sister, quickly tired of being a spectator at the rink while Maia practiced and performed. So, he put on a pair of skates and stepped on the ice. They skated individually before their parents teamed them up, with the siblings having been inspired by the ice dancing performances while attending the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships.

 

“We were seated close to the ice in the second row, and when the ice dancers came out for their warmup, we could actually feel a gust of wind as the skaters flew by,” Alex once told GoldenSkate. “We were so impressed with the artistry, skating quality, and speed of the top teams that we decided to give it a try.”

During their first year of competing in 2005, the siblings won a silver medal at the juvenile level of the U.S. Junior Championships.

When did Alex and Maia Shibutani make their Olympic debut?

The duo first performed in the Olympics as part of the U.S. team in 2014 in Sochi. The Shibutanis finished ninth, gaining attention with their Michael Jackson free dance…

How many Olympic medals do Alex and Maia Shibutani have?

The ShibSibs earned their first Olympic medal by taking bronze in team figure skating at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, becoming the first ice dancers of Asian descent to medal at the Olympics. They added a second bronze later in the Games after finishing third in the ice dance event, becoming the second pair of siblings to medal in ice dance after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay did so in 1992.

“It’s incredibly special and, along the way of our career, there have been a lot of people that have told us that maybe we shouldn’t do it or that siblings shouldn’t be a team,” Maia Shibutani said at the time, “but we believed in ourselves and we accomplished this together and I’m so proud of the work that we’ve done.”

In addition to winning two Olympic medals, the ShibSibs are also three-time World medalists, 14-time U.S. National medalists and the 2016 Four Continents Champions.

Are Alex and Maia Shibutani on social media?

Be sure to head to the Shibutani’s YouTube channel (ShibSibs), where viewers can watch episodes of “The ShibShow,” Vlogs, Olympic Sports explainers and some old school home videos — including adorable footage of the first time the siblings were introduced after Maia was born. Launched in 2012, the channel has 154,000 subscribers and nearly 12 million combined views.

In addition to their individual Instagram and Twitter accounts (@maiashibutani and @alexshibutani), they also have a joint account (@ShibSibs).

What are Alex and Maia Shibutani passionate about off the ice?

The siblings and Olympians are also authors. In September 2020, the ShibSibs released their first book “Kudo Kids,” a mystery for young adults with an Olympic twist and sibling protagonists Mika and Andy.

“People ask, ‘What did you read when we were kids?’” Alex said on NBCLX’s My New Favorite Olympian podcast. “You know, we read Harry Potter and we read like a bunch of different types of fiction and nonfiction, sports autobiographies and stuff. But there wasn’t a contemporary story for middle grade young readers that featured Asian-American kids doing fun and exciting things and solving mysteries and being heroes. And so, we’re really happy that we were able to create something that we would have loved.”