Sunday, November 8, 2015
Maia and Alex Shibuani's "Fix You" by Coldplay
After winning a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, brother and sister team Maia and Alex Shibutani seemed destined for world prominence. However, that isn't how things have played out.
Without getting into too many skating politics, some feel that the Shibutani's were given that world medal "too early," and in subsequent years were held back by the judges. It sounds ridiculous even writing that, and I don't know if it's true, but I do agree that the judges haven't favored the Shibutani's since that world medal (which by the way, was totally warranted. The Shibutani's were fantastic in 2011 and their freeskate is still one of my favorites! Click here to see it: )
I will say that I don't think the "Shibs" have had a freedance that I've loved as much as their 2011 one, but the quality of their skating has certainly maintained the same standard of excellence that they had when they landed on the world podium. In fact, their quality has improved, as well as their maturity and sophistication.
Sure, it's easy to criticize a brother and sister team in a discipline that is all about a connection between the male and female partner, but a familial connection can still be strong and emote passion, just in a different way. I've always felt that the Shibutanis bring integrity and class to each program that they deliver. On top of that, their skating skills are supreme. You will not find better twizzles anywhere else!
This year, the Shibutanis have taken on a more personal theme--one that speaks from the heart and tells the story of their career. They are skating to "Fix You" by Coldplay, which starts out with the lyrics:"When you try your best, but you don't succeed.When you get what you want, but not what you need. When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep. Stuck in reverse..."
The Shibutanis worked with the great Peter Tchernyshev, Russian-born 5-time U.S. ice dance champion with Naomi Lang, to choreograph the piece.
I just watched it for the first time, and I have to say that I love it. As gorgeous as the Shibutani's skating has been over the years, I've had trouble getting interested in some of their freedances. Their actual skating was always spot-on and breathtakingly beautiful, but too classic and safe. They weren't creating any excitement and buzz. There wasn't anything to make them stand out from the crowd. And I don't say that because of their skating itself, but rather, because of the musical selection and the very traditional look and feel of the programs.
Meanwhile, their coach/choreographer, Marina Zueva, was creating these groundbreaking, exciting masterpieces for Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. While it might not be the case, you have to wonder if Zueva was not putting all her passion and creativity into creating for the other two, while the Shibutanis got whatever mental energy was leftover. They were second fiddle, and it showed.
But "Fix You" is different. While I'd still love to see them emote and "bring it" more--especially Maia-- this program is one that I feel is authentic to them, and that translates very well on the ice. It feels very real and fresh. Tchernyshev was always a brilliant skater, artist, and performer, and his collaboration with this team is just what they needed.
I love the second half when the music starts to build and they perform their twizzles and highlight lifts. I could feel the momentum gathering and something inside me stirred. So happy to see the Shibutanis skate a program like this that really showcases not only their skating talents, but who they are as people. It's satisfying to see a team who has so much talent, finally have a vehicle that really suits them and can take them to new places artistically.
From anything I've ever see and read, the Shibutanis seem like exceptional people. Add that to terrific figure skaters, and well, I hope that equals their best competitive season yet!
Here they skate "Fix You" by Cold Play, en route to a silver medal at Skate Canada last weekend: