U.S. Ice Dancing Siblings Have Some Special Hats They Want to Give to Popular K-Pop Group BTS
"We would like to get rid of them and give them to BTS, e really appreciate and respect their work that they do"
American ice dancing siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani met with a group of journalists on Monday after completing their short dance in the 2018 Winter Olympics — earning scores good enough to send them to the competition’s second half, though not quite strong enough to break into the top three — and there they discussed their performance on the ice and their relationship with one another.
At the very end of answering questions, however, they didn’t walk away without an update on a recent viral social media request:
Had BTS gotten the hats?
Or, to put it in context, had the Shibutanis been able to get their set of seven individually labeled Team USA pom-pom hats to the seven members of the popular K-pop group BTS?
“We have not gotten them, they are still in our possession,” Alex tells PEOPLE three days after he tweeted a photo of him and Maia holding the hats with this request: “@MaiaShibutani and I have these awesome hats for the guys and we want to make sure they receive them. How do we make this happen?”
The message racked up more than 31,000 retweets — but no takers as of yet.
“We would like to get rid of them and give them to BTS. We really appreciate and respect their work that they do,” Alex says, adding, “What they’ve done breaking through to Western pop culture is awesome.”
The pairing of pop stars and Olympians may seem unusual, but Alex explains:
“We’ve been, in our careers as ice dancers, sort of trailblazers in a way, just given our look — not just being siblings but being Asian-American. We were the first ice dance team of Asian descent to win a medal in the Olympics, and so that was something that we’re really proud of and to see that representation spreading across the world … we haven’t been following K-pop for our entire lives, but real recognizes real. And we see what they’re doing and the impact they’re having, and we respect that.”
BTS (whose name, translated, means basically “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”) has seen unprecedented crossover success in the U.S., as detailed in a recent Billboard cover story.
The group’s popularity is powered, in part, by a passionate network of fans on social media who then helped broadcast the Shibutanis’ tweet earlier this week.
Until the hats get taken off their hands, though, Alex and Maia have plenty else to focus on: They told reporters on Monday afternoon that they were pleased with their short dance earlier that day, which earned them a final score 77.73, though Alex had seemed briefly let-down with the results when he heard them in the “kiss and cry” waiting area next to the rink.
That put them in fourth place heading into the free dance, Canada’s Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, Frances’ Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papdakis (who overcame a wardrobe malfunction) and fellow Americans Zach Donohue and Madison Hubbell.
“Every single second that we were out there it felt like we were owning it. … We haven’t seen a breakdown of the scores, but we do know that it was higher than the team event and that was only few days ago,” Maia told reporters. “So we feel so good about the training we did in the past few days and I’m just so proud, because that’s Olympic ice and that’s pressure, and we handled it.”
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“The scores are going to be there at the end of the event,” Alex said. “Right now Maia and I are probably going to text our parents first and sort of indulge in the human elements of the Games rather than being overly obsessed with the stuff we can’t control.”
Of having their parents with them in South Korea for the Olympics, Alex tells PEOPLE it is “amazing sharing this with them.”
“We see them more often at other competitions, the Olympic Games kind of separates you from your family, just with the Olympic Village,” he says. “But we were able to see them after the team event and they were so proud and we’re so proud to be here with them, because our family together has worked so hard for this and we wouldn’t be here without them.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.