Maia Harumi Shibutani was born on July 20, 1994 in New York City. She is the daughter of Chris Shibutani and Naomi Uyemura, both of Japanese descent, who met as Harvard musicians. She started figure skating in 1998 in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and she was a student at Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut.
She lived in Colorado Springs from 2005 through 2007 and was home-schooled. She moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2007 and graduated from Huron High School in Ann Arbor in 2012. She entered the University of Michigan in the fall of 2012.
Maia Shibutani began skating at age four. She originally trained as a single skater and was taught by Slavka Kohout Button, a coach best known for guiding US ladies' champion, Janet Lynn. A key source of inspiration for Maia to pursue the sport of ice dance came in March 2003 when she and her family attended the World Championships in Washington D.C. Her brother, Alex said, "We were seated close to the ice in the second row, and when the ice dancers came out for their warm up, we could actually feel a gust of wind as the skaters flew by. We were so impressed with the artistry, skating quality, and speed of the top teams that we decided to give it a try."
Maia and Alex Shibutani teamed up as ice dance partners in the spring of 2004. Their singles coach, Kathy Bird, arranged for them to work with their first ice dancing coaches Andy Stroukoff and Susie Kelley. The Shibutanis also worked with Mary Marchiselli and their first free dance program was choreographed by Josh Babb.
During the 2004–05 season, their first season of competition, they competed on the juvenile level which is the lowest competitive level in the U.S. Figure Skating testing structure. They competed at the 2005 North Atlantic Regional Championships, the qualifying competition for the U.S. Junior Championships, and won the competition. The win qualified them for the 2005 U.S. Junior Championships. At that competition, they placed second in the first compulsory dance, fourth in the second compulsory dance, and third in the free dance. They won the silver medal overall.
At the start of the 2005-06 season, the Shibutanis moved up to the Intermediate level and embarked on several visits to Colorado Springs, Colorado to work with choreographer Tom Dickson. During that season, they were also coached by Judy Blumberg on the east coast. After doing better than expected at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Competition in the summer of 2005, the Shibutanis decided to relocate to Colorado Springs on a full-time basis in order to benefit from the strong training center environment of the Broadmoor Skating Club. In Colorado Springs, their primary coach was Patti Gottwein During that time, they also worked with Rich Griffin, Damon Allen, Eric Schulz, and Christopher Dean.
The Shibutanis won the Southwestern Regional Championships, qualifying for the 2006 U.S Junior Championships. At the 2006 U.S. Junior Championships, they placed second in the first compulsory dance and then won the second compulsory and free dances to win the title overall. They worked as guest bloggers and aides for the media staff for U.S. Figure Skating at the 2006 U.S. Championships, and again at the 2006 Four Continents, which were held in Colorado Springs.
For the 2006–07 season, they moved up to the novice level, which is the first and lowest of three levels that compete at the U.S. Championships. Strong results at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships, including first place in the Novice Free Dance event, earned them their first opportunity to compete internationally under the ISU Judging System for the first time. At the North American Challenge event in Burnaby, British Columbia they were the highest placing Americans in the novice event, pulling up from fifth place after the compulsory to second overall.
At the 2007 Midwestern Sectional Championships, their qualifying competition for the national championships, the Shibutanis competed under They placed second in the first compulsory dance and then won the second compulsory and the free dances to win the competition overall and qualify for the 2007 U.S. Championships. At US Nationals, the Shibutanis placed second in both compulsory dances, but with a win in the free dance were able to capture the novice gold medal. This was their second consecutive national title.
Following the 2007 U.S. Championships, the Shibutanis relocated once again, moving to Michigan to be coached by Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband at the Arctic Edge Arena in Canton, Michigan. An important factor in the decision to relocate their training based included the opportunity to live and train in an area which could provide access to both world class ice dance coaching, as well as excellent educational opportunities. Alex Shibutani, at the time of the coaching change, had two years left of high school and was considering his university options.
In the 2007–08 season, the Shibutanis moved up to the junior level nationally. However, in an unusual circumstance for junior level competitors, they were unable to compete internationally on the junior level because Maia was not yet old enough. At the 2008 Midwestern Sectionals, the Shibutanis placed fourth in the compulsory dance and then third in the original and free dances to win the bronze medal overall. This medal qualified them for the 2008 U.S. Championships. At Nationals, they placed 7th in the compulsory dance, 2nd in the original dance, and 4th in the free dance. They placed 4th overall, winning the pewter medal. This was their fourth consecutive year earning a medal and podium placement, competing at four different levels at the national championship level.
In the 2008–09 season, Maia became age-eligible to compete on the international junior circuit. The Shibutanis made their junior international debut on the ISU Junior Grand Prix (JGP). At their first event, the 2008–09 ISU Junior Grand Prix event in Courchevel, France, they placed second in the compulsory dance and then won the original and free dances to win the gold medal overall by a margin of victory of 11.00 points over silver medalists Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill. They were then assigned to their second event, the event in Madrid, Spain. At this event, they placed second in all three segments of the competition and won the silver medal. These two medals qualified them for the 2008–2009 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, for which they were the third-ranked qualifiers. Qualifying for the event had also qualified them for the 2009 U.S. Championships.
The Junior Grand Prix Final was held concurrently with the senior final for the first time and so did not have a compulsory dance segment. The Shibutanis placed 7th in the original dance and 3rd in the free dance, finishing in 4th place overall.
The Shibutanis went on to the 2009 U.S. Championships, where they competed on the junior level for the second consecutive year. At the event, the Shibutanis placed second in the compulsory dance, the original dance, and the free dance. They won the silver medal overall marking their fifth consecutive podium finish at a national-level competition. Following the competition, the Shibutanis were named to the team to the 2009 World Junior Championships.
At Junior Worlds, the Shibutanis placed 5th in the compulsory dance, 4th in the original dance, and 2nd in the free dance. At the ages of 14 and 17, they won the silver medal.
In the 2009–10 season, the Shibutanis won both their JGP events - in Lake Placid, New York and in Zagreb, Croatia. At the JGP Final in Tokyo, Japan, they won the bronze medal. At the 2010 US Nationals, they competing for their third and final time at the junior level, winning the junior title. At 2010 Junior Worlds, their final junior event after having competed for two seasons on the international circuit, they finished just off the podium in fourth place.
In the 2010–11 season, at the ages of 16 and 19, the Shibutanis moved to the senior level and experienced a historic rookie season. At their senior international debut, they finished fifth at the 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy, moving up from a disappointing eighth place in the short dance with a strong second place in the free dance, finishing ahead of several veteran senior competitors. During their debut season competing in the senior Grand Prix, they won the bronze medals at both the 2010 NHK Trophy (pulling up from 5th place after the short dance) and the 2010 Skate America (pulling up from fourth place after the short dance) making them the first ice dance team to medal at both Grand Prix events in its first senior season. They were the first alternates for the 2010–11 Grand Prix final.
The Shibutanis debuted at the senior level with a second place at U.S. Nationals behind Meryl Davis and Charlie White. At the Four Continents championships, they once again finished just behind Davis and White, earning a silver medal. Maia and Alex Shibutani became the first, and thus far the only figure skaters of Asian descent, to medal in ice dance at an ISU championship event. At the 2011 World Championships, an event which had to be postponed and relocated from Tokyo to Moscow owing to the earthquake disaster in Japan, they were in fourth after the short dance, 4.09 points behind third-placed Nathalie Péchalat / Fabian Bourzat. In the free dance, they scored 4.34 ahead of Pechalat and Bourzat, both of whom had fallen. The Shibutanis moved third place overall by 0.25 points and won a bronze medal in their World Championships debut. Their bronze medal finish remains the highest world championship debut of any US ice dance team in history. At the ages of 16 and 20, they were also the youngest world medalists in the discipline of ice dance in over 50 years.
The Shibutanis started their 2011–12 season with a silver medal at the 2011 Finlandia Trophy, behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
For the Grand Prix season, the Shibutanis were assigned to the 2011 Cup of China and 2011 NHK Trophy. They placed 2nd at the Cup of China. A week later they placed 1st at the NHK Trophy, edging Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje for gold by .09 points. It was the Shibutanis' first senior Grand Prix title, earned during just their second season competing at the senior level. Their combined results qualified them for the Grand Prix Final where they finished in fifth place.
At the 2012 US National championships, the Shibutanis repeated as the silver medalists behind Davis and White. The Shibutanis finished 4th at the 2012 Four Continents, an event during which Alex competed in the free dance while extremely ill, and 8th at the 2012 World Championships.
During the off-season, the Shibutanis were invited as athlete ambassadors by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to attend a dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on May 1, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
When the coaching partnership of Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva came to an end in June 2012, the Shibutanis - along with Davis and White, and Virtue and Moir - chose to continue their training at the Arctic Edge Arena under the primary direction of Marina Zoueva.
The Shibutanis started the 2012–13 Grand Prix season at the 2012 Rostelecom Cup where they were 3rd in the short dance. They paused their free dance for half a minute due to Alex pulling a muscle in his thigh. They were allowed to continue from the point of interruption and finished 4th overall, their first and thus far only time that they did not finish on the podium at a junior or senior Grand Prix event. At their second Grand Prix event, the 2012 NHK Trophy they won the bronze medal. The Shibutanis also took bronze at the 2013 U.S. Championships. They then competed at the 2013 Four Continents and finished 4th. At the 2013 World Championships, the Shibutanis finished 8th.
The Shibutanis began their season with yet another injury which forced them to withdraw from the US Classic in September. They began their competitive season on the grand prix by capturing bronze medals at both of their events - 2013 Skate America and 2013 NHK TrophyT- qualifying as alternates to the Grand Prix Final. At the 2014 U.S. Championships they earned the bronze medal and were named in the U.S. team to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. They placed 9th at the Olympics. The Shibutanis finished their season with strong performances and a 6th-place finish at 2014 World Championships.
The Shibutanis started their season by winning the 2014 Ondrej Nepela Trophy. Combined with their gold medal at the 2014 Ice Challenge they were the top finishers in the 2014-2015 ISU Challenge Cup series. On the Grand Prix circuit, they then won the silver medals at both of their events, 2014 Skate America. and the 2014 Cup of China. Their results on the Grand Prix series qualified them for the 2014–15 Grand Prix Final, where they placed 4th.
At the 2015 U.S. Championships, the duo won the silver medal. They then went on to compete at the 2015 Four Continents Championships where they finished second in the short dance and third place overall. They completed their season with a fifth-place finish at the 2015 World Championships.
The Shibutanis began their season by winning bronze at 2015 Ondrej Nepela Trophy. On the Grand Prix circuit, they earned standing ovations for Fix You, their Coldplay free dance. They won silver at 2015 Skate Canada International and gold at the 2015 NHK Trophy, for their second career Grand Prix event title.
They qualified for the 2015–16 Grand Prix Final as the fourth ranked team based on qualification criteria that had been modified in an attempt to account for the partially cancelled Trophee Bompard event. Their combined short dance and free dance score from NHK Trophy of 174.43 points was the highest total score amongst all competitors during the Grand Prix season. At the Grand Prix Final event, they placed 4th in the short dance. The night before the free dance, Alex became severely ill with food poisoning. They chose to compete nonetheless, and managed to get another standing ovation for their free dance. They finished 4th in the free dance and 4th overall. They withdrew from the exhibition so that Alex could recover.
At the 2016 U.S. Championships, the Shibutanis placed second behind Madison Chock and Evan Bates during the short dance, but moved up following the free dance to win their first senior US title.They earned standing ovations from the audience at both segments of the competition.
The Shibutanis next competed at the 2016 Four Continents Championships. They set personal bests and finished first in both segments of the competition for their first ISU Championship title.
The Shibutanis ended their season at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships. There, they set new personal bests and finished second in both segments of the competition for their second world medal.
GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix
(with Alex Shibutani)
(with Alex Shibutani)