The decision to move was initially triggered by Alex's need to begin considering his college options. His desire to continue training as an ice dancer at a leading training center, while also being able to pursue the strongest possible undergraduate education, made moving to Michigan a natural decision. Over the past year and a half, they have truly thrived, making great progress while training in Canton. They feel strongly that they especially benefit from training alongside so many of the best ice dance teams in the world.
"We're happy to be someplace where we have a lot of strong dance teams to look up to, and the training environment in Canton is second to none," Alex said. "The other skaters have been very supportive and we learn so much by just watching them.
"I'm also going to graduate from high school this spring. I'm planning to attend the University of Michigan starting this fall."
The Shibutanis train for four-to-four-and-a-half hours on-ice five mornings a week, and they also do eight-to-ten hours of off-ice work every week.
"Marina and Igor have an equal role in our training process," Maia noted. "They have really done so much for our skating."
Shpilband and Zoueva also choreographed the couple's dances this season.
"It's a very productive dynamic," Alex said. "Igor does the initial choreography, but then Marina polishes it."
"Both of them have an equal influence on our programs," Maia added.
For their original dance this season, the Shibutanis selected music from the Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day motion picture soundtrack.
"We were excited to do something fun for the original dance and thought that swing was suitable for us," Maia said.
Their free dance is to music from the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.
"We wanted something to touch people," Maia stated. "It's a beautiful piece of music, and we both loved it."
"I liked the music from the moment I heard it," Alex continued.