How will These Siblings Fair in Winter Olympics?

Written by Molly Shea, Lauren Steussy and Hannah Withiam at New York

Being world-class sometimes runs in the family.

Superstar siblings are taking over Team USA — and these duos insist that this connection gives them an edge as they head to the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Wednesday.

Whether they practice brutal honesty or create a secret language, these athletes have forged connections you can only get from growing up together.

“When you get to this level, you go through a lot of ups and downs,” says US Olympic women’s cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen, 28, whose younger brother Erik is on the men’s cross-country ski team. “Your brother or sister will be the support you need to get there.”

Here’s a look at the siblings competing in this year’s games and the methods they’ll rely on as they fight for gold.

The Shibutanis

As kids growing up in Greenwich, Conn., skating was supposed to be Maia Shibutani’s thing. Her older brother, Alex, had aspirations of playing in the NBA — and even attended basketball camp in the summer.

But each day after his mom picked him up from camp, they would head to the rink to watch his 4-year-old sister practice. Alex, then 7, initially wasn’t too keen on his sibling’s budding hobby.

“At first, I would go to the arcade … so I could play [table] hockey,” he says. “Eventually, I got bored and saw that Maia was having a lot of fun on the ice. I decided to give it a try and the rest is history.”

Nearly 20 years later — with a ninth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics under their belts — the “Shib Sibs” Maia, 23, and Alex, 26, are favored to medal as one of Team USA’s three ice-dance pairs.

Though they’re able to maintain perfectly synchronized smiles while executing complicated side-by-side step sequences, their dad, Chris Shibutani, says that they can occasionally butt heads since they’re both “very strongly opinionated people.”

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