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Aaron is smaller and younger than most of his competitors but still follows the grueling regimen of figure skaters, sometimes spending eight hours a day on the ice and sticking to a strict, protein-heavy diet. The 5-foot-7 Aaron says he was inspired by Aly Raisman, the Jewish gymnast who won a gold medal at last year’s Summer Olympics in London and led the U.S. to the team title.
Aaron admits that the hard work can be disheartening some days.
“There are definitely times where I wish my schedule was more of an ordinary kid’s,” Aaron said. “I miss my family in Arizona, and some days, when I’m really exhausted and achy, I wish I was like everyone else my age, going to college and hanging out with friends. But I know my body can only handle this for so many years, and I have to give it my all right now.”
Aaron’s gift for skating seems to run in the family. His 18-year-old sister, Madeline, is also a professional figure skater and a 2013 U.S. junior bronze medalist. His older sister, Molly, also used to skate competitively.
A few years ago, the Aaron family bought a second home in Colorado, so Max and Madeline could train together at the Broadmoor Skating Club, although the two don’t perform together since Madeline is a pairs skater and Max skates solo.
“I wanted to become a figure skater after I saw how well Max skated,” Madeline said. “I’m hoping we get to perform one day together, but it’ll take a lot of dedication.”
Aaron’s mother, Mindy, said her children had always wanted to be professional ice skaters. As kids, they tried every activity to see what they liked. Max, she said, was a natural.
“They’ve put in a lot of hours for this, and while it’s not something that I recommend for everyone, my husband and I always try to encourage them to live up to their potential,” she said. “Watching the kids from the podium is always a proud moment for me, but we’ve had some disappointments in the past from scouts. Max is not a very tall boy, and scouts don’t usually go for the small ones.”
Mindy says her children struggled with a packed schedule, attending public school full time and ice skating in the morning and afternoons, but they were never allowed to ditch Hebrew school, which they attended three times a week.
“You need to be grounded, and we try to understand the value in Jewish traditions and hobbies,” she said. “Ice skating was important, but they always take off for the Jewish holidays.”
Aaron is enrolled at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, where he takes night classes after training for the world championships. He says he wants to become a sports agent once he retires as a figure skater, but hopes he can win as many titles as possible before the time comes. He also has plans for what he’d like to do with his free time after the competition.
“I’ve wanted to visit Israel for a while now,” he said. “I’ve never been to the land, even though I feel deeply connected to it. I’m also hoping one day my sister and I can perform there together.”