Max Aaron went into this season knowing that it would be challenging. It was no secret that he was being noticed for his athleticism only and his component mark was suffering, so he and his coaches decided to take a time out and began to shift the focus from the jumps to artistry. This has been a turbulent transition for Max, but he and his team are determined to stay the course until they find that delicate balance.
“The main thing is not skating around just trying to go from jump to jump,” Max said on a media call on March 24. “I really want to break that mold. I want to break out of that and I want to be an artist. Taking the time to work on the things in between the jumps and really fines that will make a huge difference.” Aaron has had moments of success this season where this plan to focus on choreography seemed to be working, but then there have been other times that have left him disappointed and frustrated with his own skating and the results.
Max Aaron had a breakout season in 2013 when he won the U.S. Championships, but has experienced quite a few ups and downs since then. Aaron missed making the Olympic Team in 2014, but has had some success on the Grand Prix circuit. This year he won gold at Skate America and then came in seventh at Trophee Eric Bompard. Max also captured the silver medal at the U.S. Championships this year. He had a rough skate at Four Continents only a few weeks ago, where he finished in seventh place. “Four Continents was definitely not a great event for me, but I really am glad that it did happen,” Max said. “It was one of those events where anything that could go wrong did go wrong. You just skate through it and you do the best you can.” Aaron went on to explain that he stepped on a piece of plastic while he was there and the plastic melted to his blade. Regardless of how hard they tried they could not seem to remove it. He described it as one of the “weirdest and craziest” events he has ever had, but was quick to add that he didn’t want to make excuses for his poor performance there.
Though it was a tough event for Max, he was glad it happened because it challenged him mentally and he believes it will only help him at the World Championships where he will be faced with a lot more mental challenges. Aaron will be up against one of the most intense competitive men’s international fields we have seen in years, with three of the men competing having won the event in previous years. It has to be tempting for a skater like Aaron to add quads to his program to ensure more points and to increase his chances of making it onto the podium, but Max is determined to stay on the path set by himself and his coaches and continue to put his energy into creating a performance and not just a program filled with jumps.
“Obviously you’re going to have to eventually add more quads as I see the top men do more and more quads,” Aaron admitted. “For me that’s not a problem. I can always add a quad or two, but for me right now, my goal is to have that full performance and not just focus on my jumps. I’m really trying to perform the entire time and that’s why I chose this season to do two quads, [in the free skate] focus on the performance base and improve that way rather than just keep adding quads.” Max continued to explain that he wants to add a second quad in his short program and a third in his free skate, but will not be incorporating those additional quads in his programs just yet.
It’s certainly a challenge to mold a once hockey player into a figure skater who can give a moving performance, but Max’s drive to be a complete skater has kept him on course. Aaron is not planning on making any dramatic changes to his programs going into the World Championships, other than cleaning up his footwork and working on projecting to the audience. He is hoping that what he brings to the table is enough both athletically and artistically. “I know that I can deliver these programs clean and that I can put up a big score,” Aaron said. “I know that I can be a threat…but my main goal going into these championships are skating clean and that’s all I care about.”