Two-time Olympic bronze medalists in ice dance, Maia and Alex Shibutani, today (February 24) met the students of Jinbu Middle School in the culmination of a youth sport mentorship program.
The program — launched in August by the U.S. Olympic Committee — is in partnership with the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) and Jinbu Middle School.
The event at the PyeongChang House in Gangneung celebrated the six-month relationship between the Shibutanis and the students, and included a final lesson on the Olympic experience, certificate ceremony, gift exchange, photo shoot and remarks from Alan Ashley, U.S. Olympic Committee chief of sport performance and Chef de Mission for 2018 Olympic Winter Games, representatives from POCOG, and the Shibutanis.
“Our Olympic experience on and off the ice has been incredible,” said Maia Shibutani. “For the past six months, we have built a bond with the students that was only made possible because of the Olympic Games. Today there were happy tears, lots of hugs, and laughter. Spending time with the students was amazing, and we are very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent Team USA.”
As part of the USOC’s “Thank You, PyeongChang” initiative – a goodwill campaign aimed to contribute to the positive legacy of the PyeongChang Games, to say thank you to the people of South Korea for hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and to make an impact on the global community through the spirit of Olympism – Maia and Alex participated in a learning exchange with the students highlighted by monthly video chat sessions.
After launching the program with an announcement video in August on the first day of school in Korea, Maia and Alex hosted a live video mentorship chat each month from September 2017 through January 2018. The two-way knowledge exchange featured the Shibutanis sharing inspiration and guidance on the Olympic Movement, and the students teaching the athletes about their culture. Topics covered in the sessions included: history, health and nutrition, values and culture, setting and achieving goals, and excitement for the 2018 Games.
We love Maia and Alex and all they do not only on the ice, but also in the South Korean community!