Even though Alex and Maia Shibutani won bronze in ice dancing at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang at the ages of 23 and 26, respectively, you may be asking why the “Shib Sibs” won’t be defending their title in Beijing in 2022.
It’s not unusual for athletes to take a hiatus from competition following an Olympic cycle like the Shibutanis did after the 2018 Winter Games.
They resumed touring with Stars on Ice this year, but had to put their training on hold in October after doctors discovered a malignant tumour on one of Maia’s kidneys.
It was “extremely scary time… not only for me, but our family,” Maia told the Olympic Channel a year later.
In December 2019, Maia had surgery to remove the tumour. At the time, she posted on Instagram: “My surgery went smoothly, and I am so relieved that it was caught early. At this moment, further medical intervention is not required.”
What will 2022 hold for the Shibutanis, and how are the siblings currently using their time?
Correspondingly, Kamila Valieva broke yet another record with her “otherworldly” short programme in figure skating.
Will the Shibutanis’ Olympic Debut Come in Beijing, 2022?
There will be no Shibutanis at the 2022 Olympics. According to the International Skating Union, the ice dancing duo retired after Maia’s tumour was discovered in 2018, and their final competition was the 2018 Olympics (ISU).
The Olympic Channel report states that the Shibutanis had planned to return to the ice in November 2020, but that COVID-19 was another complicating issue as they considered a return.
Currently, “the world is sort of adjusting to sort of the new normal that we’re confronting,” Maia adds. We’ve got a lot more to think about now in terms of when we could come back, so that’s added another layer.
The Shibutanis have not made any public announcement on whether they will continue to compete or whether they will retire after the 2021–2022 figure skating season.
It’s reasonable that the twins won’t be competing in Beijing, given the difficulty of getting back into shape after such a significant health crisis and a lengthy hiatus in the midst of a pandemic (though they did assist unveil Team USA’s opening ceremony uniforms through social media).
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker will all compete for the United States in the ice dance event in Beijing.
In 2022, what will the Shibutani children be up to?
The Shibutanis are keeping busy in 2022 despite the fact that they won’t be competing on the ice in Beijing. The siblings collaborated on a children’s book in 2020 titled Kudo Kids: The Mystery of the Masked Medalist.
They’ve also maintained their 154,000-subscriber strong ShibSibs channel on YouTube. The duo keeps up their skating and training routines, documenting some of their routines and choreography on Instagram.
The most significant thing is that as of October of 2020, Maia had no signs of cancer. “I’m doing extremely well now,” she proclaimed on the Olympic Channel.
Even though they won’t be gracing the Olympic ice this year, the Shibutani siblings appear to be in fine form off the ice as well, with Maia authoring a book and Alex working on a documentary. We hope the best for them in their future endeavours.