Still coming off what they call the “ultimate high” of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Ice Dance Olympic Bronze Medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani will take a turn in the spotlight yet again during the Stars on Ice Tour, scheduled to make a stop at the Allstate Arena on April 29.
Yet, going into their first performance just a few short weeks ago, the two had never seen Stars on Ice before.
“YouTube has been a huge resource for me,” laughed 23-year-old Maia, one half of the brother-sister skating duo affectionately known as the Shib Sibs. “[Stars on Ice] has been touring for over 30 years, so it has such an amazing history of iconic performances to look at. From the very beginning, there has always been a great energy around the shows. We want to give an Olympic Games caliber performance, that’s for sure.”
“We believe we put on the strongest performances we could have at the Olympics and now we are looking forward to all that lies ahead of us,” 26-year-old Alex told the Chicago Sun-Times just days before reports came out that the brother/sister duo would take a year off and not compete during the 2018-19 figure skating season. “At this moment, we feel good and we feel ready to go into Stars on Ice. Just like the Olympics, we want to skate our very best, so the nerves are pretty much the same.”
STARS ON ICE TOUR When: 4 p.m. April 29 Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont Tickets: $25 – $90 Info: StarsOnIce.com
Certainly, the two-time National Ice Dance Champions and three-time World medalists have become favorites with figure skating fans thanks to not only their incredible talent but also their love and respect for one another both on and off the ice.
“We were just watching some throwback videos that our parents took of us when we were kids,” Alex chuckled. “There was one video where we were at an Easter egg hunt and Maia was like 2 years old and I was like 5 years old, and we were working together to find eggs. (Laughs.) It’s just how we have always been. Of course, not every sibling goes into a field of work together like we did. It definitely comes with some intense challenges, and yes, there are times where we have a difference of opinion, but we had great parents who taught us to always support each other.”
It’s this sibling support that fans have seen first-hand throughout the pair’s journey, much of which has been shared on social media. “We started blogging essentially to tell our story,” said Alex, who also competed alongside his sister at the Sochi Games in 2014. “As far as I am concerned, I have always that it was a great way to make the world seem small.”
While helping ignite a new generation of skating lovers, the pair’s online popularity also has lead Stars on Ice to change with the times. “There are some [skating] numbers that are specifically targeting the younger demographics,” explained Alex, who trains alongside his sister in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “There is a Frank Sinatra and Jay Z mashup, and then there is our program to Coldplay. It’s all about attracting new generation with a lot of popular music and high-energy programs. The Olympics draws in the entire world, and people of any age can be inspired by Snapchat and Instagram. That’s just the era we live in.”
It’s that era that the siblings will be catering to alongside fellow Stars on Ice performers such as U.S. Figure Skating Team members Nathen Chen and Adam Rippon.
And the next Olympics – is that on either of their minds quite yet? “We aren’t even going to think about that until the tour is over,” says Maia strongly. “Alex and I are just very present people. We are very lucky that we have the choice of what we can do next and have a little time to be creative. At this point, all we want to do is put on the very best show we can tonight.”