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Max Aaron in Hunt for Second U.S. Title

 by Liz Leamy

Max Aaron at 2015 Skate America

(15 January 2016)  Max Aaron, the high-energy 2013 U.S. champion and 2014 U.S. bronze medalist known for his high-flying quads, is looking to capture his second U.S. title at the 2016 Prudential U.S. Championships in St. Paul next week.

“I’m looking forward to the U.S. Championships and to hopefully win another title,” said Aaron in a pre-Nationals conference.

Known for his terrific jumping acumen, the 23-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona native, who has faced some ups and downs since winning the U.S. title, has spent much of the past year focusing on artistry as a means to further beef up his scores and bring his competitive game to a whole new level.

Based on Aaron’s results so far this season, this approach seems to be working.

This past October, Aaron scored gold at Skate America, something that was indeed a huge personal win for him.

Then, after having placed seventh in the short program at Trophee Eric Bompard in Bordeaux, France in November (the free skate had been cancelled due to the tragic Paris attacks that had occurred that same weekend), Aaron still managed to wind up as the first runner up in the men’s division of the Grand Prix Finals in December, which is a pretty big thing.

“I’ve been working on movement and how well I can have those line and interpretation while doing the jumps,” said Aaron, who was seventh and eighth at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, respectively.

At the same time, it is important to note that Aaron, known as one of the most powerful and dynamic skaters on the men’s circuit today, is a big crowd draw, especially when he is on top of his game, which is paramount, especially in considering the fact that Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion and two-time U.S. silver medalist who is also a huge audience favorite, announced his withdrawal from the 2016 Prudential U.S Championships last week due to back issues.

“I’ve got to focus on what I do everyday in practice when the lights come on,” said Aaron, who was fourth at the 2015 U.S. Championships.

No doubt, when Aaron turns the switch on, he can light up an entire arena, as he did when he captured his first National title in Omaha, Nebraska several years ago.

Being thrust into the spotlight, especially in this sport, is not exactly an easy thing, as Aaron, like practically every U.S. champion, experienced following that life-changing victory.

Although Aaron competed very well, for the most part, his performances were not always consistent, a feat that is not easy as the downside of executing huge triples and quads is that upright, steady landings are not a simple thing to always pull off on a consistent basis. (Quads and triples are high-risk elements, especially when they particularly big and taken from super-fast entries.)

Aaron, not one to back down, has proven, perhaps more than ever this season, that he possesses the ability, strength and mind power to effectively manage this issue as he seems to be hitting a whole new stride in terms of his performances.

Last October, Aaron validated this notion when he knocked out first at Skate America in Milwaukee, where he easily seemed to reel off a host of beautiful quads and soaring triples, among other things.

According to Aaron, his primary goal in competition is to hit this performance level every time.

“I just want to get out there and do the best I can,” said Aaron, who trains with Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, as a means to further increase the level of his competitive game, Aaron began working with the well-known California-based choreographer, Philip Mills this year, a partnership that seems to truly effective in every respect.

“My goal is to make sure every line is extended fully and every movement is as good as possible.”

Certainly, Aaron appears to be right on track in terms of achieving these goals, as he has generated a great deal of buzz among audiences, officials and the entire skating community for his dynamic and innovative interpretations of ‘Nessun Dorma’ for his short program and the ‘Black Swan’ for his free skate.

Aaron, who had been a hockey player until he began figure skating at age nine after watching his sister, Madeleine and Molly, both of who were pair skaters, do well on the U.S. Figure Skating competitive circuit, is focused on just evolving into as complete a skater as possible and wants to make a strong artistic impact this season.

“This is the journey I want to take [my skating] to now and I want to establish myself as an artist first,” he said.

With this philosophy, Aaron ought to be good to go in terms of putting out two top-shelf programs next week that should go over winningly with the audience in St. Paul.