Alex Shibutani is a 2014 Olympic ice dancer who competes with his sister Maia. The Shibutanis are three-time world championships medalists, four-time Four Continents medalists, two-time U.S. champions and 14-time grand prix medalists. Maia and Alex are writing about their journey for TeamUSA.org as they approach the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
OKAY GUYS... it’s my turn. Maia was up first, and now Team USA has passed the figurative “blogging pen” to me.
Last month, you enjoyed a comprehensive breakdown of our creative process, our “off-season” schedule, and our competitive programs for this Olympic season. The piece (I’m going to call it a piece) was well-written and characteristic of my sister, and skating partner, Maia Shibutani. She really did an amazing job. If you haven’t done so already, you should go read it now. (Go! Save yourself… Read something with depth! Learn something!)
If I’m being totally transparent, Maia should probably be writing this blog entry as well - especially given that I haven’t written anything longer than a tweet for several years.1
Team USA has asked me to write a guide to “Skating With Your Sister And Still Getting Along.” That’s not relatable at all! So for your sakes (those of you who are still here), I’ve tweaked the assignment a bit and present to you: “5 TIPS ON SPENDING LOTS OF TIME WITH YOUR SIBLING AND STILL GETTING ALONG.” Look! I’ve already disobeyed instructions. We’ll see if Team USA ever asks me to do this again (doubtful).
*** Okay. Before I get started, let me disclose that I’m not technically qualified to be giving any advice. The following list should be taken with an oversized grain of salt because I’m trying to make this blog entertaining - at the expense of being helpful or informative.
HERE WE GO!
1. Identify Something You Both Enjoy Doing, Then Do It Together
PROOF: Maia and I found ice dance. That’s worked for us for 14 years. I’m not saying you have to start skating, but maybe start with eating together. Everyone likes eating, right?
2. Stay Adequately Hydrated And Don’t Go Extended Periods Of Time Without Eating
Even if you have the best relationship with your sibling, spending lots of time together without scheduling regular food breaks is ill-advised. This is another reason why food is a critical component to a healthy sibling relationship.
3. Develop A Verbal Shorthand
Create a “verbal shorthand.” This is a language that allows you to communicate efficiently and minimally as you approach the stage of getting on each other’s nerves (potentially due to being hangry).2
4. Be THANKFUL
Having a sibling is such an awesome thing. I have friends who are only-children and not only are they spoiled rotten, they also display a serious lack of social skills. JUST KIDDING.
Seriously though, if you’re lucky enough to have a sibling, that’s family. Family is so important and you have the opportunity to be each other’s best friend and biggest supporter. Just like Maia and me.3
5. Only Have One Sibling
I have no idea how three, four or (gasp) five siblings get along when spending so much time together. Balancing a relationship with one sibling is more than enough. To those of you with more than one sibling, I salute you.
It’s currently 4:30 am and I am in the throes of jet lag after arriving in Nagoya, Japan last night for the ISU Grand Prix Final. Following Maia’s award-worthy blog, we competed in two grand prix events - the first in Moscow at Rostelecom Cup, and the second in Lake Placid, New York, for Skate America. Our two wins at those competitions qualified us for the Final and we’re so excited to be here.
The first grand prix event of our career was the 2010 NHK Trophy right here in Nagoya. This week, we will be competing in the same venue as where our senior career began. We’ve come so far since then. Our skating has matured and developed. We have challenged ourselves and each other with every aspect of our sport and our craft, and it has taken us to a level that we’re proud to have reached.
Maia and I have always been best friends – since the day our parents brought her home from the hospital. (If you don’t believe me, check out Maia’s Instagram. She’s been posting some home videos of when we were really little and they’re pretty amazing.)
We’ve spent more time together than any other pair of siblings I know. We’ve dreamed together, believed in each other, and every step of this journey has been so incredibly special. Ahhh… maybe that’s why they wanted me to write about our sibling relationship.
If you’re interested, we have been documenting our creative process in our vlogs and those videos can be found on our YouTube channel.
1. Recently, Twitter has somewhat controversially expanded the character limit of individual tweets from 140 to 280. I barely even know how to write more than a 140-character tweet. It’s been a struggle, and it’s totally thrown me off my Twitter game.
2. “Hangry” is a combination of the words “hunger” and “angry.”
3. After three “tips” of questionable validity, I HAD to make “4” real so the good people at Team USA would post this entry.