Spend a few minutes talking with Max Aaron and it becomes abundantly clear, this guy is wired very differently than most. Intense, driven, analytical, determined and filled with motivational phrases, this hockey player turned figure skater is not only becoming a champion, he’s developing a message that beats in the background of his life. One that says, “If I can, you can too.”
Many have heard that he started out in hockey at age 3 and spent time figure skating to improve his speed on the ice. He worked in both sports until he finally made the decision at age 16, after breaking his back, that he wanted to pursue figure skating and see where the path would lead.
Fast forward several years later, and Max is crowned the 2013 U.S. Champion with quadruple jumps that got everyone’s attention and brought people to their feet. Not many know the journey it was to get there and that it wasn’t just a turn of luck that he landed on the scene. “I always constantly grinded away,” Max explained. “I always pushed myself to the limit in practice and in training and in every mental aspect and I don’t think that many people saw that.”
When three-time world champion, Patrick Chan, says that Max "is the hardest-working kid I've known in my career," you know that this man puts in the hours. He is that guy that doesn’t leave the rink until he finishes what he came there to do that day; the one that will work until he gets what he wants from himself.
Many said that he could not make it in figure skating and that he would never be on the world stage, and yet here he is, one of figure skating’s Olympic hopefuls. “I expect a lot [of myself] because I put in a lot. I am very driven and I am very intense because this is something that I am very passionate about and I really want to take it all the way...I have chosen one sport and I pour all of my passion and heart into this sport. I expect it to go far and I feel like not many men are as driven as I am,” Max said emphatically.
From his early youth, Max watched and listened as his dad put in seemingly endless shifts as a doctor and his mom as a nurse. “At a young age, I learned quickly, that if you want something you go out there and do it yourself and get it done,” Max relates. He heard stories of what it took for his parents to achieve their goals and it slowly began to influence him and soon that hard working ethic began to take shape in his own life.
Even when it comes to his social life and free time, Max does not let up. “I guess for fun, I enjoy working out,” Max laughed. “That’s not what a lot of people do. I love being in the gym.” For a 21 year old guy, this is an interesting version of “fun”, but it is all part of what Aaron is about. Not many are wired for this kind of intense and disciplined lifestyle, but it is one in which he tends to thrive. “The more you train, the more you realize how bad you want something, it definitely changes who you are for sure,” Max said.
After winning the 2013 U.S. International Classic, Aaron was visibly frustrated because he had three imperfect quads in his free skate. “Any time I bobble or stumble in a performance it’s very frustrating for me, because that’s not the way that I train,” Max expressed. Yet after the event, he took some time and was able to shift his perspective. Aaron said, “I’m glad that I didn’t successfully land them that early, because it’s going to make me want it more.”
Recently Max was at the USOC Media Summit where he demoed his free skate for a large group of media members and he fell on his quadruple toe-loop. “I’m very pleased that I actually fell on the quad toe,” Max said. “It was a good test. I have yet to fall on the toe and I have now popped it and fallen on it. It wasn’t in a major event now, but now I’ve learned what to do...so looking back on it now, I am super happy that this is how it went.” It's apparent that Aaron’s unstoppable perspective is one of the primary reasons for his success.
Unlike many athletes, Max’s favorite thing about figure skating is the process of training. He enjoys the tough times, which make the victories that much greater to him. For Max it is not just about the win, it’s about the journey it took to get there. “A lot of athletes are afraid to fail...I’ve been there, I’ve done that and it’s not something new to me,” Max said, which seems to negate a lot of anxiety for him. Aaron never really thought that he would be in this position, especially in an Olympic year, so he just feels grateful to even have this opportunity and does not seem to concern himself with the possibility of failing.
Ironically enough, Max did have a fear of heights in his younger years and refused to go up to the top of the Space Needle when visiting Seattle, yet now he is ready and would like to return to Seattle and conquer his fear. Max is certainly not one to let anything get in the way of what he wants to do.
To learn about Max's quadruple jumps, goals for the Olympics and personal life, keeping reading: