“Always give yourself 100%, every day. “- Figure skaters in line
By Claire Cloutier, collaborating editor of the FSO team
Photos by Robin Ritoss and the Boston Skating Club
In 2018, Max Aaron retired from competitive figure skating to begin a career in finance. However, he did not leave the sport behind. The former American champion remains involved in figure skating through seminars and shows. This week he will appear on A Night of Stars, a Boston-area benefit show to raise money for cancer research. The show will take place on Saturday December 4th and all proceeds will go to the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, Mass General Brigham and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. A Night of Stars is also the grand opening celebration of the new Skating Club of Boston facility in Norwood, MA, completed in 2020.
Recently, Aaron spoke with Inline Figure Skaters on what he’s been up to these days, his connections to Boston and his favorite memories of his competitive career.
Aaron is from Scottsdale, AZ, across the country from Boston. There he started playing hockey at age four and figure skating at age nine. Aaron competed in both sports for seven years before focusing on skating full time. His decision ultimately led to an American national title in 2013Championships in Omaha, NE which remains one of the proudest memories of his career.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Aaron recalls of the 2013 championships. “I was really going to skate the best I could, and maybe retire after this year. I came out on top, and it was completely unexpected. But certainly trained for.
Aaron’s national title was one of the many accomplishments of his skating career. He has won four Grand Prix medals and numerous Challenger Series medals, and has represented the United States at four world championships.
Aaron has fond memories of his first World Championships in 2013. “My first World Championships in London, Ont., Is something I won’t forget,” he said. “Having a hockey background and skating in Canada under the lights… This stadium was packed and the Canadian fans were so loud and rowdy and kind. I have talked a lot about hockey behind the scenes with all the press.
However, the highlight of Aaron’s career may have come in Boston, at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships. The event, which was hosted and managed by the Boston Skating Club, included a memorable men’s competition. in which Aaron placed 8th with two strong programs.
“The world championships in Boston were probably the most enjoyable opportunity for me in my entire skating career,” said Aaron. “Words cannot describe this event. It was truly remarkable. Winning a medal or not, I definitely had two great skates there. This is something I will remember. Hearing the crowds and going to the World Championships in my home country, I was lucky to have that. Lots of fun times, from the crowd support to the venues we competed in, especially TD Garden, and how special they made you feel. We were on a bus after the [competition], and it was the first and only time that I [experienced] be escorted by the police to the hotel. It was unreal, the experience of walking through town like that, and the attention it attracts.
The only major goal that Aaron missed in his career was a place on the US Olympic team. Although he competed in two Olympic cycles, in 2014 and 2018, things did not fall into place for him to be part of the team.
“Obviously, I would have loved to have an Olympic medal or be part of this team. But I couldn’t have done anything more. I would not have done the preparation differently. That’s how the chips fell, ”Aaron said philosophically. “Look, I’m so happy for these guys in 2014 and 2018 who were named to the Olympic team. They certainly deserved it. I couldn’t be prouder to have them as teammates at this time. We are all good friends to this day. (Aaron was delighted to see his former teammaterecently landed its first homologated quad. “Jason has always been a good friend of mine. I knew he had it in him. “)
As Aaron reflects on his competitive career, what stands out is gratitude for his success. “Being an Olympic substitute twice was more than anything I could have dreamed of,” he said. “I was the guy who was a hockey player, I switched to figure skating [full-time] at 16, and chased him after a broken back. To be the United States champion and American medalist several times, and to participate in four world championships… only good memories.
After retiring from competitive skating, Aaron decided to attend skating seminars, in part to share his story with and inspire young skaters.
“I always thought to myself that when my time was up in sports, I wanted to give back and get involved as much as possible,” noted Aaron. “I have coached high level athletes and I like participating in seminars. It is largely a question of deepening the technique of the jumps. The second part, which I love, is talking off the ice.
Aaron shares his own history and philosophy of skating with young athletes. “I’m like, ‘Look, I was never meant to be the United States champion. But guess what? Hard work really pays off, ”said Aaron. “If you focus on something, you can really do it. Always give 100 percent every day. I’ve always skated like it’s the last day I was going to skate. If you skate like this, whether you are an Olympic champion or a regional champion, you will have a fulfilling career. You will know that you have done all you can.
Although Aaron is known for his quad jumps, he doesn’t necessarily place an emphasis on quads in his teaching. “Keep an open mind, that’s what I tell these skaters,” said Aaron. “Everyone has their own way. And it’s not really about quads. Yes, quads are definitely a point-grabber. But you look at skaters like Jason Brown. Yeah, he can do a quad. But he doesn’t even necessarily need a quad. He brings another value to the sport, and a different angle, of his artistic side and athleticism in his spins, where he catches those points. Yep, quads are cool. But there are a million different ways you can become the best.
Aaron also makes a point of discussing life after skating. “This is the most important thing that a lot of athletes don’t talk about too much: what visions and dreams do you have that you want to achieve, outside of sport? Aaron said. “Sometimes they don’t want to talk about it, because they’re in the sport now, and it’s like, maybe that would make them angry. I say, ‘Look, this is a great time to talk about this.’ It just sets off that spark.
For Aaron, a career in finance has brought satisfaction. After working for Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and other companies in Arizona, Aaron begins a new job at ProShares, an institutional investment firm with offices in New York, NY and Bethesda, MD.
“I like the numbers. I love working with numbers and I love the stock market, ”Aaron said of his job. “The numbers don’t lie, at the end of the day. I love looking at charts and coming up with plans to help make the best portfolio decisions and help other people retire at a younger age. It’s great to learn different avenues of finance, perfecting it in a profession. Hope I will take him to the top. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be CEO someday.
Aaron is currently in transition from Arizona to New York, where he will be based in the Manhattan office of ProShares. He is staying with friends and family in the New York area while looking for an apartment. He can’t wait to live life to the fullest in the Big Apple.
“I love the fast-paced lifestyle,” Aaron said of New York City. “Everyone is on the move and everyone has a mission. It was my state of mind in sports, so I love it. And there are all walks of life in New York. You see it all, and it’s a great opportunity to learn from others.
Aaron’s family is still in Arizona. He said his sister, Madeline Aaron, a former top American pair skater with partner Max Settlage, is now an NICU nurse at a children’s hospital in Phoenix, AZ.
“She’s about to get her doctorate. She’s going to be a nurse practitioner soon, ”Aaron said of Madeline. “She did a lot for the community and the hospital during the pandemic. I am really proud to call her my sister.
Along with several family members in the medical field, Aaron understands the importance of cancer research fundraisers such as A Night of Stars. “The proceeds from the event go to a great cause,” he said. “If I get the chance to skate for something like this, I’m always a yes. Whether I’m doing quads or double toe curls, I’m going to get out there and help raise money.
Aaron can’t wait to skate in the show with some of his former teammates, including, Ashley Wagner, and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir. He’s also excited to be sharing the ice with younger competitors, especially Jimmy Ma, silver medalist at the US International Figure Skating Classic this fall.
“I was always a fan of Jimmy, when I played him, towards the end of my career. He always had unique programs. He’s just the one who brings down the house. I hope I can maybe skate before him, not after him, ”Aaron joked.
Aaron has visited the new Skating Club of Boston in Norwood before and was impressed with the facilities.
“It’s probably the biggest hall in the world. I really mean it, ”Aaron said. “The way the three rinks are set up and how they are managed. I don’t know what other place [where] you are going to have ice cream from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the evening. It is suitable for all skaters. And the places are hot, which keeps the muscles warm. If I were a competitive athlete today, I would train there.
The rich history of the Boston Skating Club inspires Aaron. “It’s really remarkable to skate on the ice, among the champions, or under the names of so many champions,” he said.
To purchase tickets for One Night of Stars, Click here.