The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew

Halloween costumes and the Aaron family

The Toth brothers don Tin Man outfits many moons ago.
The Toth brothers don Tin Man outfits many moons ago. (courtesy Taylor Toth)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(10/20/2010) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins are back with more of The Inside Edge.

Three is better than one
It's hard enough to have one elite skater in the family; imagine the families with two, or even three! The Aaron family is a member of this club, with novice pair skater Madeline, junior singles skater Max, and senior pair skater Molly. They recently moved to Colorado Springs, where we gathered in their tiny apartment. Molly, Max and Madeline crowded onto a couch, Drew manned the computer and Sarah transcribed from Boston via video Skype.

Max picked the computer up to give Sarah a tour of their domain. The two girls share a bedroom with their mother, Mindy. The three beds fill up the small room.

"They have one bathroom with lots of stuff in it," added Max, panning the computer. "Lots of makeup. Of course as the only male in the family, I get an office as a room. I like to have a little inspiration, so when I wake up, there are my medals across the room. And that's the apartment! It's very tight."

The Aarons are from Scottsdale, Arizona, where their father still lives and works. Max and Molly moved to Colorado just over a year ago, and lived together for the season.

"It was a learning experience," Molly said, laughing.

"We had to get used to the four seasons," said Max. "In Arizona, we had hot and not-as-hot. The first time driving in snow wasn't very good. A curb popped out of nowhere, and somehow the car hit the curb!"

Mom Mindy and little sister Madeline joined them last May.

"I didn't want them to be responsible for Madeline, because she was still in school," said Mindy. "I felt that we had made this commitment and it would make it easier for them to have me here. My husband and I see each other every two weeks, and it's hard, but it's not a forever thing.

"It was very hard for Madeline when Max and Molly left, and she was much happier making this move to be with her siblings. It felt better to keep the kids together. So far it's working out, and we're making it work. We miss the dog, but my husband sends us videos."

Madeline has teamed up with Max Settlage.

"We've only been skating together for four months," said Madeline. "I've been to every single nationals watching Max and Molly, and hopefully this will be my first time to compete there. I really enjoy doing singles too, so I'd like to get more triples by myself. We're always trying to compete with each other, so that's really fun, because I get really competitive when I'm jumping! My partner and I are aiming to win novice pairs and get on the Junior Grand Prix circuit afterward."

Molly skates with Daniyel Cohen; they finished ninth at the 2010 US national championships.

"This was definitely a learning year for Dani and I," said Molly. "We came off quite a high at Nationals, seeing ourselves on TV for the first time. We felt a lot of pressure this summer and we walked away feeling that we've learned to be more of a team. I never realized how much I need to rely on my partner."

Molly said they are training well at the moment.

"We've got some new tricks up our sleeves for nationals. We did a triple toe/double Axel sequence today, and the triple twist is new this year. After a year with Dalilah [Sappenfield], Dani's able to catch a good twist and I'm so proud of him. We're excited for January! We have to go to Mids but there are only three teams."

Moving on to Max, we asked about his recent Junior Grand Prix competitions. He has officially qualified for the JGP final in China. (He also just won the junior men's event at the Southwestern regional championships, with 195.80 points).

"Japan was my personal best short program so far," he said. "The jumps went smoothly; the only problem I had was the camel spin. It was really fun and the crowd in Japan really gets into the program when you skate well.

"I'm still working on the long -- it hasn't come out the way I wanted it to. That's why I'm actually doing Regionals, because I want to make the long defiant when it comes to Beijing, hopefully with the quad sal. Spins have always been tough for me," he added. "I was always a jumper. I would just fling myself into a spin and hope for the best."

"We all hold our breath when he goes into a spin!" chimed in Molly and Madeline.

We asked the siblings how and when they all started skating. Max told us that he was the first skater in the family, but he started with hockey, not figure skating.

"I played hockey for twelve years," he said. "For six years I did both, until I broke my back. I fractured my L5 vertebra on both sides. I was on the USA developmental team, but we knew I wasn't going to be a really big player. They're all big and I could keep up but it's kind of hard to fight the big guys. I had to pick a sport and I wanted to see how far I could go in figure skating." "We did gymnastics," said Molly, meaning both girls. "There's only one rink in the valley and Max started playing hockey there. I broke my arm in gymnastics and mom signed me up [for figure skating] and I guess I fell in love with it. But Maddie went on the ice and cried."

"I was too cold and I didn't like it," said Madeline, giggling. "And I was doing ballet on top of it for about twelve years, fifteen hours a week. I went en pointe for two years -- I was pretty serious about it."

"It's their dream, it's what they want, and we're behind this because this was the next step to getting better. Being in this environment has made a tremendous difference for all of them," added Mindy.

All three siblings say they love training together at the World Arena.

"The environment here really helps," said Max.

"The camaraderie is like none other," added Molly. "Having other teams there really pushes us."

"We help each other out if we're on the ice together, we support each other," said Madeline.

"Maddie and I skate together one session a day," said Molly. "And on Saturdays we all skate together."

"And we steal each others' clothes," said Madeline.

Everyone fell over on the couch, laughing, and then the family, and Drew, headed to the kitchen where Mindy had prepared chicken and salad for all.

Pumpkins, princesses and dinosaurs
Remember when you were a kid and the biggest decision you would make all year was what to be for Halloween? We asked some skaters what their favorite Halloween costume was when they were little.

Tai Babilonia: It was a pumpkin costume my mom made for me in the 60s. As I got older it was usually a witch, sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Agnes Zawadzki: A Disney princess. I really liked Cinderella.
Brandon Mroz: Batman.
Amanda Evora: A fairy, like Tinkerbell.
Gretchen Donlan: I was Waldo, with seven of my other friends, and we asked others to pick out the "real" Waldo.
Taylor Toth: If I had to pick one I would say the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. That year my brothers and I were going to be the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man, but when it came time to decide who would be what we all wanted to be the Tin Man... So we all went as the Tin Man.
Marissa Castelli: Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I always had to be a Disney princess!
Colin Grafton: A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Laura Lepzinski: A Yellow Power Ranger.
Johnny Weir: A baby chicken.
Piper Gilles: Tinkerbell.
Austin Wagner: A ninja.
Felicia Zhang: I was a cat for the most Halloweens that I can remember. I loved the ears and wearing a tail.
Tommy Steenberg: My favorite Halloween costume was this green dinosaur costume that was homemade but legit -- it actually got an honorable mention in a Halloween parade I participated in at age four because I would turn in a circle and hit people with my tail!
Amanda Dobbs: My favorite was a tiger! It is one of my favorite animals, they are so pretty and strong. I was an orange striped one and to this day I still have my costume.
Sarah (a butterfly) and Drew (a bunny)
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