Getty Images

Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani take break from figure skating

1 Comment

Olympic ice dance bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani will sit out the 2018-19 season but are not ruling out a later return to competition, according to U.S. Figure Skating.

The siblings are touring with Stars on Ice, having skipped last month’s world championships, and plan to keep training and create new programs to perform throughout the year at shows, Alex said.

“While we are still young and love competing and performing, we have exciting projects that we have the opportunity to work on both together and individually,” Maia said, according to U.S. Figure Skating.

Four years ago, Sochi Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White skipped the post-Olympic world championships and then announced they would sit out the post-Olympic season. Davis and White haven’t competed since.

The Shibutanis succeeded Davis and White and fellow Sochi Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates as the top U.S. dance couple.

They earned national titles and world championships medals in 2016 (silver) and 2017 (bronze) before coming back from fourth place after the short dance to take bronze in PyeongChang.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

With the Shibutanis out and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir expected to retire, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are in a class of their own in ice dance.

Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue beat the Shibutanis at January’s nationals, were third in the short dance in PyeongChang and took a distant second to the French at worlds last month.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Nathan Chen plans to attend Yale, keep skating

Adam Rippon, Shibutanis to miss figure skating worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Adam Rippon and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani withdrew from the world figure skating championships in three weeks, joining a list of Olympic medalists who will miss the event in Milan, Italy.

Rippon is replaced by Max Aaron, who joins PyeongChang Olympians Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou in making up the three-man U.S. team.

Aaron was the third alternate behind Sochi Olympian Jason Brown and U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner, who passed on the worlds spot after Rippon gave it up. A rep for Rippon did not specify why he decided against worlds.

Rippon, an Olympic team event bronze medalist, said after he finished 10th in singles in PyeongChang that he didn’t know if he would compete at worlds.

Many skaters skip the world championships after the Olympics due to exhaustion or off-the-ice opportunities.

The Shibutani siblings were the lone Americans to earn Olympic medals outside of the team event. They said earlier this week that they were unsure if they would compete at worlds.

They are replaced in the worlds field by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who were fourth at nationals.

Other notable skaters missing worlds:

Patrick Chan (CAN) — Widely reported to have retired
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — Retired
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Possibly retiring
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — Possibly retiring

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics

U.S. ice dance teams all focused on Olympic podium

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States has three of the top five best dance teams in the world. It’s possible – likely, even – that at least one of them will end up on the PyeongChang podium. The same three U.S. teams have qualified for the prestigious Grand Prix Final for three consecutive years and taken home medals from the event.

Brother-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani have already won a bronze medal in the team event earlier in PyeongChang; they also have two U.S. titles and three Worlds medals. They finished ninth at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished eighth in Sochi, then won their first national title together in 2015. They have two Worlds medals on their resume.

The third U.S. team, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, are making their Olympic debut as newly-crowned national champions. They train with the two other top teams competing in PyeongChang: Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

The short dance is Sunday, February 18 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free dance is Monday, February 19 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.