Max Aaron was as surprised as everyone else in Omaha Sunday after jumping from fourth after the short program all the way to his first national title.
The 20-year-old, who also won the U.S. Classic back in September, finished with 255 points to outscore runner-up Ross Miner by nearly four point.
“It feels kind of weird,” Aaron told NBC after winning. “It’s like it’s just another event and just happened to click. I want to give it my all at every event.”
The former hockey player from Scottsdale, Ariz. earned a spot at worlds and put himself in the driver’s seat for a shot in Sochi next February.
Three-time champ national Jeremy Abbot came in with a commanding lead after a near flawless first night of competition, but dropped to third after a poor showing in the free skate.
NBC Sports will air coverage of 87 Alpine skiing races at 22 resorts across the globe this fall and winter, from October through March, in the final full season before the 2018 Olympics.
Highlights include fall and winter stops in the U.S. with races in Killington, Vt.; Beaver Creek, Colo.; Squaw Valley, Calif.; and the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., in March.
Lindsey Vonn‘s highlighted World Cup stop will be downhill and super-G races in Lake Louise, Canada, the first weekend of December.
The world championships in February will be in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin will look to defend titles.
ALPINE SKIING SEASON PREVIEWS: Men | Women
Canadian skier Phil Brown was fortunate to walk away from an airborne crash at the World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria, on Sunday.
Brown failed to finish his first run, losing contact with the snow early on and falling hard onto his side.
He tweeted a video of the crash, with slow-motion replays, with a soundtrack of Irish singer Enya‘s “Only Time.”
The World Cup season continues with men’s and women’s slaloms in Levi, Finland, in three weeks.
MORE: Ted Ligety recovers to finish fifth in first race in 9 months