Shibutanis Taking Next Season Off
Shibutanis sign with a new agency, then announce they aren’t competing in the 2018-2019 skating season, other plans TBA.
After the Olympic season, some skaters who know already they’ve had enough may retire. Once upon a time, that was what everyone did. But that was back when taking the professional skating opportunities meant giving up Olympic eligible status. Nowadays, skaters can get around that. So it’s more common for those that triumphed at the Olympics and want to keep their options open to declare they’re just taking a break from competition. It’s not even unknown for skaters to come back from breaks. This quadrennium, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir did so, and won themselves a second Olympic gold.
It wasn’t long after the Olympics that people started wondering if Maia & Alex Shibutani might take this route. They’d left Korea with not only a pair of bronzes, but also with the media in love with them. For good reason; figure skating fans have long known of their creative programs, fun personalities, and videographing skills, but now the world had learned about all these things too. They’ve even been further advertising, releasing truly adorable videos with footage from their earliest years:
When they skipped the World Championships in favor of all the new media opportunities, naturally people wondered if the attention was going to keep them away from competitive skating for a little longer than that.
It’s going to do so for at least the next season. They announced today they’re taking that off. They speak about “new projects and opportunities” that they’ll be doing “both together and individually,” and definitely make it sound like there will be further big announcements of what they’ll be doing in the future. These two already know how to do those.
There even was one earlier in the week, when they signed with United Talent Agency, although they seem to also be keeping their agent at IMG. Keeping the latter is probably for their skating gigs; those are a lot easier for IMG skaters to get in North America. The former is a huge agency, with some of Hollywood’s and the music industry’s biggest names among their clients. Signing with this agency speaks to them intending to take full advantage of their raised profile.
So far, aside from their YouTube videos, the Shibutanis have made one TV show appearance as themselves, on Nickelodeon, but there’s a good chance they’ll be doing more. What would be really exciting, of course, is if they got to do more work behind the camera. Even if it’s just on YouTube, it would be nice to see them do the scripted videos they used to do some years back.
Whether or not they’ll return to competition is hard to tell. One year out probably wouldn’t hurt them, but with how deep the U.S. ice dance field is, they likely couldn’t stay away too long if they want to remain competitive. It may well come down to how many opportunities they’re still getting next spring.
In the meantime, they’re still skating in Stars on Ice, touring right now, and airing on NBCSN Saturday at 12:30. What other ice shows they’ll do in the months to come is another thing we’ll have to wait to find out, and there aren’t that many anymore in North America, sadly. But hopefully they won’t be off the ice entirely.