Ice Network

The Inside Edge: Aaron embarks on new career

Hubbell, Diaz announce engagement; Calalang, Johnson partner up
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Max Aaron, who recently announced his retirement from competitive skating, is enjoying his new role as a wealth advisor with Merrill Lynch. -courtesy of Max Aaron

Following a long and impressive career, Max Aaron recently announced his retirement from competitive skating. On the Tuesday following the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy, Aaron took on a new role, starting a job as a wealth advisor for Merrill Lynch in Sun City, Arizona.

"It's something I've been wanting to do for at least 10 years -- helping people invest in their future," Aaron said. "I've realized that a lot of my friends are living in the moment, not taking their future into consideration. I have this opportunity, and I can't wait to see what I can do with it."

Aaron said he has no regrets about his decision to hang up his skates.

"There was never a moment where I thought, 'Woulda, coulda,'" he said. "I won a U.S. title, went to four world championships. I enjoyed my time; there's nothing more I could have done. I put everything I had into it."

Earlier in his career, Aaron was one of a handful of skaters to include multiple quads in his free skate. As the years went on, more and more men added more and more quads to their programs, and Aaron found himself lagging behind the pack.

"I'm 100 percent happy with where I'm at," he said. "There's nothing more I could give to the sport. I couldn't do much more to make myself that much better. I couldn't add another quad at the age of 26."

Aaron was the third alternate for the 2018 World Championships and found out that he would be competing in Milan with very little time to prepare. Nevertheless, his 11th-place finish was key to earning three spots for the U.S. men at next year's worlds.

"I always wanted to be a team player," he said. "If there was anything I could do, I was willing to do it. I was happy to end my career at a world championship. Helping the team keep three spots meant a lot to me."

Although he's now focused on his new career, Aaron said he'll still skate in shows from time to time. He's living at home with his parents in Arizona while he looks for a place of his own.

"It's so nice to be home," he said. "I haven't lived with my parents since I was 16. It's weird to be back in my parents' house, following rules again! But I'm enjoying being home, seeing my parents every day. I'm so happy."

Hubbell, Diaz announce engagement

U.S. champion and world silver medalist Madison Hubbell and Spanish ice dancer Adrián Diaz got engaged March 27 in Spain. The morning after the 2018 World Championships ended, the two flew from Milan to Barcelona to visit Diaz' family for a few days before rehearsals began for Stars on Ice in the U.S.

The two had previously discussed marriage, and Diaz had been pondering the right place in his home city to pop the question.

"I was not looking to do something big because we had already talked about it and I knew she wasn't looking for that," Diaz said. "I had a few places in mind; I ended up deciding to go up on top of a mountain next to Barcelona, with a view of the city.

"I planned it for two months," Diaz continued. "When she left to go to the [Olympic] Games, I already had it mind, so it was a long month-and-a-half wait!"

The two have been dating for more than three years. They originally met in 2008 but didn't see each other again until both competed at Skate Canada in 2014.

"[The wedding will be] sometime in the next four years, so when we're done with skating we can move on to the next part of our lives," Hubbell said.

Both Hubbell and Diaz said they plan to compete for another four years with their respective partners, Zachary Donohue and Olivia Smart.

Calalang, Johnson create new pairs team

Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson announced that they are pairing up for the 2018-19 season. The duo will train with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, who coached each of the skaters with their previous pairs partners.

Calalang, 23, competed with Zack Sidhu for the past eight seasons, winning the 2013 U.S. junior silver medal. Johnson, 22, most recently competed with Chelsea Liu, with whom he won the 2015 U.S. junior silver medal.

After both of their previous partnerships dissolved following the 2018 U.S. Championships, Calalang and Johnson had a tryout with each other. The pairing seemed obvious: After all, they had been training on the same ice for the past four years.

"It seemed really natural," Meno said. "They came to us, and they were really excited to skate together."

"We make a great team. We're very energetic on the ice," Johnson said. "Our ultimate goal is obviously the Olympics, and I think we can get there."

In addition to training with Meno and Sand, the skaters work with Frank Carroll on jump technique. Rohene Ward will choreograph both of their new programs. They are preparing for U.S. Figure Skating pairs camp in June and plan to compete for the first time in early July.

"We've worked with both of them for a long time, and we've never seen them more motivated or working harder," Meno said.

Yamaguchi honored in D.C.

1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi was presented with the third annual Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award at the Team USA Awards on April 26 in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes those who have served "as a powerful force for good in society" and inspired others. The two previous winners were Muhammad Ali and sprinter Allyson Felix.

The award was presented to Yamaguchi by Owens' granddaughter Marlene Dortch, bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, figure skater Sarah Hughes and USOC chairman Larry Probst.

In her acceptance speech, Yamaguchi reportedly spoke about wishing to be a positive influence for children; her Always Dream Foundation promotes early childhood literacy.

Some 200 members of Team USA attended the ceremony. Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and speedskater Jeremy Bloom presented the award for best female Olympian to snowboarder Chloe Kim.

Korpi ties the knot

Three-time European medalist Kiira Korpi of Finland married Arthur Borges Seppälä at Villa del Balbienello on Lake Como, Italy, on April 30. The bride wore a white satin gown with lace cutouts on the bodice, while the groom sported a tux with a white jacket. Skaters Valentina Marchei and Laura Lepistö attended, as did Finnish rapper Elastinen.

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