Maia and Alex Shibutani became the first ice dancers of Asian descent to win an Olympic medal after their second-place free dance performance clinched bronze for the United States in the figure skating team event.
Though the pair have been a force in the figure skating world for years, their rise to prominence faced many roadblocks, not only because of their heritage, but also because of their shared DNA in a sport that is traditionally performed with many romantic elements.
However, those challenges didn’t faze the Shib Sibs, and Alex took to Twitter after Team USA’s podium finish to reflect on his and Maia’s journey to PyeongChang and how they use their unconventionality to their advantage.
In full, the tweets read:
Last night was a dream that became a reality. [Maia] and I have worked so hard for this! Proud to be the first ice dance team of Asian descent to win a medal at the [Olympics].
When we started skating together, [Maia] and I didn’t see any teams on the ice that looked like us. There weren’t too many sibling teams either.
Being so “different” could have been a warning sign... but we were 9 and 12 years old and didn’t see ourselves as “different”. We were just having a blast skating together.
Throughout our career (14 years and counting), [Maia] and I have had to, and will continue to push past stereotypes, labels, doubters, and cynics.
We have become successful BECAUSE we are siblings and family. Not in spite of that fact. We have challenged ourselves to grow, innovate, and embrace what makes us different from other teams BECAUSE our differences are what make us unique.
When someone tells you that you can’t do something or that your success will be limited because of how you look, or who you are, keep moving forward. Set yourself apart by finding a way to utilize your strengths. Never stop believing in yourself.
Believe in your dreams and surround yourself with people who nurture and believe in your dreams as much as you do. Sometimes the journey can be lonely, but fortunately, [Maia] and I have always had each other.
You don’t have to look like anyone else. You don’t have to be, or skate like anyone else. You don’t have to fit the mold or follow the path that everyone else is on.
Just find, and be yourself.
Maia and Alex Shibutani return to action soon. 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.