Sister-brother Olympic ice dancing? For the Shibutanis, it's all in the family

GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Alex and Maia Shibutani, like most twentysomethings, are extremely active on social media.

For the most part, they interact with fans of the brother-sister ice dancing pair, who enter Tuesday’s long dance in fourth place, just 0.02 behind fellow Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue who are in third. Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are 1-2 respectively. A medal is possible for the Shibutanis.

The response from fans, the Shibutanis say, is overwhelmingly positive but the fans do, at times, descend into something between curious and confrontational on one subject.

76 PHOTOS
US ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani
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US ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. perform. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. perform. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. perform. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. perform. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. react after their performance. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Ice Dance Free Dance competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Ice Dance short dance ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Jan 7, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani performs in the dance free skate during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
January 7, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; (L-R) Second place Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, first place Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, third place Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and fourth place Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker pose for a photo in the dance free skate program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 7, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Second place Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani pose for a photo in the dance free skate program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 7, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani react in the kiss and cry in the dance free skate program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 5, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani in kiss and cry in the dance short program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Figure Ice Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final - Ice Dance Victory Ceremony - Nagoya, Japan - December 9, 2017. Bonze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. show their medals. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Nov 26, 2017; Lake Placid, NY, USA; Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA) perform in the exhibition gala during the 2017 Skate America figure skating competition at Olympic Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2017; Lake Placid, NY, USA; Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (USA) and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) respectively won the silver and the gold and the bronze medal during the pairs free skate program at the 2017 Skate America figure skating competition at Olympic Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Figure Skating - ISU World Championships 2017 - Ice Dance Victory Ceremony - Helsinki, Finland - 1/4/17 - Bronze medallists Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. attend the ceremony. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Figure Skating - ISU World Championships 2017 - Ice Dance Victory Ceremony - Helsinki, Finland - 1/4/17 - Bronze medallists Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. attend the ceremony. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Figure Skating - ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2017 - Ice Dance Short Dance - Gangneung, South Korea, 16/2/17 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. compete. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2016/2017 - Ice Dance - Marseille, France - 10/12/16 - Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. compete. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Figure Skating - ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Gala Exhibition - Boston, Massachusetts, United States - 03/04/16 - Ice Dance silver medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform. - REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Figure Skating - ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Ice Dance Free Dance - Boston, Massachusetts, United States - 31/03/16 - Silver medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States compete. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
USA's Alex Shibutani and USA's Maia Shibutani react after competing in the ice dance short dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (in the middle) of the United States with their coach Massimo Scali (L) and Marina Zueva (R) wait for the score after performing their free dance as part of the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Bronze medallists Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, Bradie Tennell, Alexa Scimeca Knierim, Chris Knierim, Maia Shibutani, and Alex Shibutani of the United States, from left, hold plush toys of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics mascot Soohorang as they pose at a flower ceremony for the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States react after receiving their score in the Figure Skating Team Event � Ice Dance Free Dance on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani of the United States of America compete in the Figure Skating Team Event Ica Dance Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States look on as Bradie Tennell competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Ladies� Short Program on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
USA's Alex Shibutani and USA's Maia Shibutani compete in the figure skating team event ice dance short dance during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 05: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani skate off the ice after competing in the Championship Dance Short Program during Day 3 of the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center at SAP Center at SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 26: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform in the Ice Dance Free Dance program on Day 3 of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Herb Brooks Arena on November 26, 2017 in Lake Placid, United States. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States compete in the Ice Dance Short Dance during day two of 2017 Bridgestone Skate America at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States wait for their score in the Ice Dance short program on Day 2 of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, United States. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 22: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform in the Gala Exhibition during day three of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Rostelecom Cup at Ice Palace Megasport on October 22, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 21: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States react in the Ice Dance Free Dance during day two of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, Rostelecom Cup at Ice Palace Megasport on October 21, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Figure Skaters Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani pose for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 28: Ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani pose for a portrait during the Team USA PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics portraits on April 28, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani attend the 9th Annual Shorty Awards at PlayStation Theater on April 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of United States perform during ice dance short dance program of ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2017 in Helsinki March 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Second place winner Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of United States pose on the podium after the medals ceremony of the Ice Dance during ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships - Gangneung -Test Event For PyeongChang 2018 at on February 17, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 20: Maia and Alex Shibutani skate during their Short Dance program on Day 2 at the 2017 US Figure Skating Championships on January 20, 2017 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 21: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani compete in the Championship Dance Free Dance routine during the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Sprint Center on January 21, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 19: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of United States compete in the Ice Dance Free Dance on day two of Audi Cup of China ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2016 at Beijing Capital Gymnasium on November 19, 2016 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States wait for their score to be announced on day 2 of the Grand Prix of Skating at the Sears Centre Arena on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 03: Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani of the United States perform during the Exhibition of Champions on Day 7 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on April 3, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 10: Ice dancers Maia Shibutani (L) and Alex Shibutani arrive at the CASA of Los Angeles' 2016 Evening to Foster Dreams Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 11: Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani attend 11th Annual Skating With The Stars Gala at 583 Park Avenue on April 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/WireImage)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States celebrate after completing their Free Dance Program during Day 4 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on March 31, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 31: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States compete during Day 4 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on March 31, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States compete during Day 3 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on March 30, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 23: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani compete in the Free Dance at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship on January 23, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN - JANUARY 23: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani react to their scores after competing in the Free Dance at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championship on January 23, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The pair came in first place. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the US perform during the ice dance free dance at the ISU Grand Prix figure skating NHK Trophy in Nagano on November 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
LETHBRIDGE, AB - OCTOBER 31: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutan of the United States skate during the Ice Dance Free Dance on day two of Skate Canada International ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, October, 31, 2015 at ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Alex Shibutani (L) and Maia Shibutani attend The 10th Annual Skating With The Stars Benefit Gala at 583 Park Avenue on April 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - MARCH 27: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of United Status perform during the Ice Dance-Free Dance on day three of the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on March 27, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 14: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform during day four of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2014/2015 at Barcelona International Convention Centre on December 14, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: U.S. Olympians Alex and Maia Shibutani visit the USA House in the Olympic Village on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: U.S. Olympians Alex and Maia Shibutani visit the USA House in the Olympic Village on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: U.S. Olympians Alex and Maia Shibutani visit the USA House in the Olympic Village on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 17: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States wait for their score in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance on Day 10 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 17: American skaters Alex and Maia Shibutani perform during the figure skating ice dancing free dance medal round. Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Monday, February 17, 2014. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The USA's Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani perform their ice dancing short program at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. (Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JANUARY 11: Alex and Maia Shibutani on the ice acknowledge the crowd for their third place win during the 2014 US Figure Skating Championship held at TD Garden. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JANUARY 11: Maia Shibutani and her partner Alex Shibutani after performing during the 2014 US Figure Skating Championship held at TD Garden. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: (BROADCAST-OUT) Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani of the USA Ice Dancing team posesl in the Olympic Park during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 06: (Front L-R) Alex Shibutani, Evan Bates, Gracie Gold, Charlie White, (back L-R) Maia Shibutani, Meryl Davis, Madison Chock and Ashley Wagner of the United States look on as teammate Jeremy Abbott competes in the Figure Skating Men's Short Program during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 6, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Darren Cummings/Pool/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 11: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani celebrate in the kiss and cry after skating in the free dance during the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden on January 11, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States perform their free dance at Skate America 2013 in Detroit, Michigan, October 19, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Geoff Robins (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 20: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani skate during the Smuckers Skating Spectacular at Skate America 2013 at the Joe Louis Arena on October 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 24: Figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani pose for a portrait during the USOC Portrait Shoot on April 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JANUARY 25: Maia Shibutani and Alex Schibutani compete in the Short Dance Program during the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at CenturyLink Center on January 25, 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
SAPPORO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 13: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of USA perform in the Gala Exhibition during day three of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy at Makomanai Sekisui Heim Arena on November 13, 2011 in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
US Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani celebrate with their coach Igor Shpilband (R) after the results of their free dance program in the ice dance category during the ISU World Figure Skating Championships on April 30, 2011 in Moscow. US Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani finished third. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
US Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani perform their short program in the ice dance category during the ISU World Figure Skating Championships on April 29, 2011 in Moscow. AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the US compete during the Ice Dance Short Dance of the 2010 Skate America in Portland, Oregon on November 13, 2010. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, AICHI, JAPAN - OCTOBER 22: Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the USA perform in Ice Dance short Skating program during day one of the ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy at on October 22, 2010 in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
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Why do you dance with your sister/brother? In an event that generally requires the participants to feign romance, isn’t that a bit awkward? While only a few dance teams are actual couples – almost everyone is acting – isn’t that more difficult with a sibling? Alex is 26. Maia is 23.

The response is simple: This is about family. You either understand, or you don’t. They aren’t changing. It’s about performing with family, and chasing dreams with family, and succeeding with family. It’s about them, but also their two parents, Chris and Naomi who, as Alex notes, “supported two Olympians.”

“I think every Olympian wants to share the experience with their family,” Maia said. “But we are actually getting to do this together every step of the way.”

If that doesn’t satisfy the people who question a brother and a sister dancing together, then so be it.

“Trolls have families,” Alex said with a laugh.

“The people who don’t understand, they have families, too,” Maia said. “I just think it is so special that I can enjoy this with my sibling and I think if they were in our shoes hopefully they would enjoy it too. But who knows?”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. Ice dancing isn’t just about the athletic ability needed to hit all of the technical aspects the judges require.

There’s a story to tell and it’s almost always about love. One American team, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, is dating. Another, Hubbell and Donohue, used to be a couple.

24 PHOTOS
The best figure skating faces from the Winter Olympics
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The best figure skating faces from the Winter Olympics
China's Yan Han competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Mirai Nagasu competes in the figure skating team event women's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Mikhail Kolyada grimaces as he rotates while competing in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Evgenia Medvedeva, an Olympic athlete from Russia, competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
USA's Adam Rippon competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Nicole Schott of Germany competes. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Bradie Tennell of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/John Sibley
Canada's Meagan Duhamel (R) and Canada's Eric Radford compete in the figure skating team event pair skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel's Alexei Bychenko competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Alina Zagitova, Olympic athlete from Russia, in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Kaori Sakamoto of Japan competes in the Ladies Free Skating during the Figure Skating Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Training ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 8, 2018 - Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea reacts. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Shoma Uno of Japan in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea in action. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Russia's Mikhail Kolyada competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Alexei Bychenko of Israel competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Patrick Chan of Canada competes in the Figure Skating Team Event - Men's Single Skating Short Program during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 9, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
China's Yu Xiaoyu and China's Zhang Hao compete in the figure skating team event pair skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Keiji Tanaka of Japan competes in the Figure Skating Team Event ? Men's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Japan's Keiji Tanaka competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Li Xiangning of China competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Pair Free Skating ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 11, 2018 - Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert, Olympic athletes from Russia, compete. REUTERS/John Sibley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Women's Single Skating Free Skating competition final ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 12, 2018 - Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Selling romance is so paramount that at the 2014 Olympics, gold medalist Charlie White tried to hide his off-ice relationship with retired ice dancer Tanith Belbin so judges would still believe in he was pining for his partner, Meryl Davis. (White retired after Sochi, and he and Belbin are now married.)

On the ice, dancers stare into each other’s eyes. They hold each other suggestively. They exude sex appeal – outfits here Monday included bare midriffs, plunging necklines and even a halter top that came off (accidentally).

Sex sells, and the Shibutanis obviously can’t sell it. Even subconsciously, the judges might react unfavorably. They have to survive on incredibly clean and precise performances, and even then they rarely get the score they feel they deserve.

On Monday, they thought they might crack 80. They wound up with 77.73.

“Have you been watching our career?” Alex said when asked if he was surprised. “It was an amazing skate. It was the best skate of our season so far. And it was awesome to do it on Olympic ice.”

“Every single second we were out there, it felt like we were owning it,” Maia said.

The Shibutanis shrug. They know what they are dealing with. They aim to overcome it anyway. The ShibSibs, as they are known on social media, have skated together nearly their entire careers. They’ll overcome the obstacles, together.

There are benefits, though. The two know nearly everything about the other. And when they argue, as all siblings will, there is a base of family they know will bring them back. It might be healthy in a team activity like ice dancing to be able to express yourself freely.

“We fight now, we won’t sugarcoat it,” Alex said. “We are both athletes who are working to do the very best we can do. In the NBA, do teams fight? Sure. You are going to have some disagreement. But it is our dedication, and we persevere through those moments.”

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French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis suffers 'nightmare' wardrobe malfunction
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French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis suffers 'nightmare' wardrobe malfunction
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Combination picture shows France's Guillaume Cizeron performing with France's Gabriella Papadakis as the back fastening of her costume cames undone duing the ice dance short dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. French figure skater Gabriella Papadakis suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, revealing a little more than just her Olympic gold medal ambitions in the ice dance competition. A heavy title favourite along with partner Guillaume Cizeron, Papadakis's skimpy dress slipped during a raunchy short routine in Pyeongchang to leave little to the imagination of millions of television viewers around the world. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
France's Guillaume Cizeron performs with France's Gabriella Papadakis after the back fastening of her costume came undone duing the ice dance short dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. French figure skater Gabriella Papadakis suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, revealing a little more than just her Olympic gold medal ambitions in the ice dance competition. A heavy title favourite along with partner Guillaume Cizeron, Papadakis's skimpy dress slipped during a raunchy short routine in Pyeongchang to leave little to the imagination of millions of television viewers around the world. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Figure Skating - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Ice Dance short dance competition - Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Papadakis Gabriella and Cizeron Guillaume of �France competing in free dance at Gangneung Ice Arena , Gangneung, South Korea on Feburary 19, 2018. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France during the Figure Skating Ice Dance Short Dance program on day ten of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
France's Gabriella Papadakis reacts after competing in the ice dance short dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
France's Gabriella Papadakis and France's Guillaume Cizeron compete in the ice dance short dance of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. French figure skater Gabriella Papadakis suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, revealing a little more than just her Olympic gold medal ambitions in the ice dance competition. A heavy title favourite along with partner Guillaume Cizeron, Papadakis's skimpy dress slipped during a raunchy short routine in Pyeongchang to leave little to the imagination of millions of television viewers around the world. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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They each point to their parents, who raised a close-knit group. They were musicians who met at Harvard and have moved around the country in search of training opportunities, coaching and competition for their children. After Monday’s skate, the kids’ first goal was getting a chance to text their mom and dad.

“They are so proud and we’re so proud to be here with them because our family together has worked so hard for this,” Alex said. “They raised us in a way where we know how to take care of each other.”

They aren’t the first brother-sister tandem in ice dancing. It isn’t even all that rare. At the 1992 Games, Paul and Isabelle Duchesnay won bronze for France. Hubbell used to skate with her brother. She moved on.

The Shibutanis will not move on. They are in this together. They are bright, clean-cut and fun. Alex loves the NBA. Maia offers make-up tips on YouTube. They look and act like pretty much any other people their age living in Ann Arbor, Michigan – other than the world-class athlete part.

If doing this together doesn’t make sense to some people, let alone the Olympic judges, so be it. The Shibutanis came here to podium, and it’s right there for the taking. They performed great here three times, including twice in the team skate competition where they helped the United States secure bronze. It’s made them extremely confident.

“That is Olympic ice and that’s pressure,” Maia said. “And we handled it.”

If they don’t medal, they’ll keep being themselves and enjoying the fans who understand them perfectly.

“We care much more about that than the negativity,” Alex said. “Even if we do hear the negativity, we know better.”

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