Max Aaron won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2013 and has experienced a lot of ups and downs since. Aaron was launched into the limelight following his breakout season and struggled to stay on top. Max is one of the few U.S. men who can successfully land two different quadruple jumps on a fairly consistent basis, but without a strong component score Aaron has had a difficult time on the international circuit. Since then Max has been on a quest to find his own style and become a more complete skater.
Aaron and his team decided to remove the quad toe loop from Max’s programs this season while he focuses on his artistry, but he continues to perform two quad salchows in his free skate. “I want to be a more balanced skater and I want to be able to have that artistic side and this is the journey that I want to take right now,” Aaron said on a USFS media call on Jan. 13. “I still work on quad toes, it’s not a problem I’m not worried about it, but I want to be able to establish myself as an artist first and then put that third quad in and go from there.”
Max, a reformed hockey player, watched his sister perform in The Nutcracker on a yearly basis and began to form a unexpected love for the ballet. “Pursuing a program that is more balletic is something that’s actually true to me,” Aaron said. “It may not look like it, but it’s something I love and enjoy. That art, that is what I wanted to bring out this season.”
When formulating the programs for this season Max first started with listening to the music and paid attention to what emotions it evoked. From there he began working on classical lines and worked with choreographer Philip Mills. It was then a process to begin including the jumps into the program without breaking up the choreography.
The work that Aaron has put into the component score has began to pay off this season as he won his first Grand Prix, Skate America this past fall. Sadly his second Grand Prix, Trophee Bombard was not as successful as he finished in seventh place after the short program. Due to the cancellation of the rest of that event Max officially finished in seventh, but did find redemption in his following event, the Tallinn Trophy where he came in first place. “Having that event in France that was tough for me, that’s not the way that I trained,” Max said about his short program. “Honestly I’m glad that it happened because I was getting a little too confident in my abilities.”
After returning from the Tallinn Trophy, Aaron made some changes to his free skate in preparation for the rest of the season. “We worked a lot on the long program and the slow section we shortened that up a bit,” Max explained. “I didn’t want to have that long of a rest. Even though I would love to have that long of a rest, I wanted to keep the audience more engaged…”
The focus has certainly changed for Aaron especially as he goes into the U.S. Figure Skating Championships next week. “My main goal is to stick with what I’ve been training, what I’ve been doing every single day,” Max said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I don’t want to get too confident, I want to be right in the moment. I want to skate two clean programs and perform as big as I can and then keep improving on that every event. Hopefully I get to the point that I am performing every event and skating clean at every event and that’s my main goal.”
Aaron is known for his drive and ambition and hopes that all of his hard work and determination enables him to reclaim his national title next week in Saint Paul, Minnesota. With the reigning national champion, Jason Brown out with an injury and last year’s bronze medalist, Joshua Farris also not competing due to injury, the U.S. men’s field is wide open. “I’m feeling great going into these U.S. Championships having the Grand Prix season I’ve had,” Max said. “It’s been a learning experience…ultimately I’m looking forward to get an opportunity to hopefully win another title.”