When they won two bronze medals in February, U-M students and ice dance team Maia and Alex Shibutani became the first U.S. siblings to win an Olympic ice dance medal. We recently caught up with them to talk about “Stars on Ice,” their biggest travel challenge, and their other favorite sport: social media.
What’s next on your skating agenda?
Since the Olympics are only once every four years, they are the most important competition in our sport. When it comes to what’s next on our skating agenda, we’re really excited about the 22-city tour we’re doing with “Stars On Ice.” The cast consists of many of the skaters who were on Team USA for the 2018 Olympics as well as U-M alumni Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Have you ever done a show like “Stars on Ice” before?
After our first Olympics in 2014, we were a part of the “Stars on Ice” tour in Japan. The last time we toured with “Stars on Ice” in the U.S. was 2016.
What surprised you most about your experience at the Olympics, beyond winning the medals?
Going into the Olympics it was our goal to win two medals. Because we competed four times, we had to be very focused the whole time we were in South Korea. Since we’ve returned to the U.S., it’s been amazing to receive such positive and warm responses from people of all ages and backgrounds.
Did your social media get a bump from the excitement of the Olympics?
Our following definitely grew during the games. That uptick is a phenomenon that happens when Olympic sports receive increased television and media coverage. Beyond appreciating what we do on the ice, people generally follow us on social media because they want to know more about who we are off the ice.
Does social media come naturally to you, and how do you manage it?
It’s something we’ve grown up with. It’s easy to manage when you’re being yourself. We never feel pressured to post, and we don’t have other people manage our accounts.
What’s the status of your U-M career right now?
Neither of us is currently attending U-M. After our first Olympics in 2014, we prepared for Pyeongchang and our training has been our full-time priority.
What’s been the most interesting experience you’ve had since the Olympics ended?
We’ve been fortunate to experience a lot of amazing things. During our skating career, we have drawn a lot of inspiration from entertainment and film. It was one of the highlights for us to have the opportunity to talk with a lot of the people we admire at some of the Oscar parties.
You’re going on the road soon, seeing a lot of cities. Tell us your biggest travel challenge.
The biggest travel challenge is packing for a long period of time when we visit different climates and need a mix of clothing. When we’re on tour, we have our skates, training clothes, and other equipment. That’s already a lot. Then, when you add in our street clothes, our luggage gets pretty heavy.