Shibutani siblings cap promising Olympic ice dance debut; medal contenders yet to compete


Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States compete in the dance free skate Monday. (Photo by Darron Cummings/AP)

SOCHI, Russia—U.S. ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani capped a promising Olympic debut Monday at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where they performed their free skate to a Michael Jackson medley.

The siblings, 19 and 22 years old, respectively, entered the final night of the ice dance competition in ninth, having earned a season’s best 64.47 points for their short program.

They may have taken a slight step back with the free skate, in which they got a Level 2, a below-average grade, for their first lift. They earned 90.70 points, which was nearly four points off their season-best marks and second-best among the 12 duos to compete.

The Shibutanis earned bronze at last month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships.  Along with Madison Chock, 21, and Evan Bates, 24, who compete 14th among the field of 20 Monday, the Shibutanis  represent the promise of U.S. ice dance looking ahead to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They train under Marina Zoueva, alongside reigning world champions and gold-medal favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White, in suburban Detroit.

Davis and White will compete last Monday; their chief rivals, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, will skate 17th and lag 2.56 points.

 

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