The Washington Post

U.S. ice dancer Alex Shibutani offers joyful peek into Olympic debut

Alex and Maia Shibutani perform in the short dance Sunday. (DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

SOCHI, Russia–It’s doubtful there has been a more enthusiastic Olympian than 22-year-old U.S. ice dancer Alex Shibutani, whose Twitter feed since making the U.S. Olympic team with his sister Maia, 19, has been a stream of unbridled joy and gratitude.

The Shibutanis, whose parents met as musicians at Harvard, have spent the last 10 years preparing for the Olympic stage. And he has chronicled their Olympic debut through a series of photos snapped with fellow U.S. athletes he unabashedly regards with awe—among them, track star-turned bobsledder Lolo Jones, snowboarder Shaun White, speedskater Shani Davis and ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. He has posted photos from the airplane on his flight from Munich to Sochi, photos of his Closing Ceremony gear, photos of his post-practice meals and offered this impression of the cafeteria Athlete’s Village: “Like high school. Except every table is the ‘cool table’ and you can sit wherever you want!”

And Monday, just hours before he and Maia were scheduled to perform their free skate at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating palace, Alex Shibutani posted their competitive strategy:  “Let loose, be free and be happy!”

The Shibutanis, who represent the promise of U.S. ice dance, scored a season’s best 64.47 points for their short program, which placed them ninth. They’ll skate 12th among the field of 20 Monday, performing to a medley of Michael Jackson songs.

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.

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