(Apologies to those who might have seen this post TWICE in the last hour and then saw it disappear-- it deleted all of my polls as soon as I published it!)
This is part one of a series that focuses on top-level skaters throughout the last few Olympiads who have changed at least one of their competitive programs during the course of a season. I have about fifty total instances I am going to highlight, and the order in which they are featured is completely random.
The first part features the following skaters: Alexei Yagudin, Michelle Kwan, Shizuka Arakawa, Miki Ando, and Evan Lysacek. For each case, I have embedded YouTube videos of both performances, as well as a poll asking which program you personally preferred. Voting ends on December 31st, and each day I will add new programs for you to decide between.
Alexei Yagudin 1999/2000 Long Program
Broken Arrow ==> Tosca
After Yagudin lost the European Championship to countryman Evgeny Plushenko, he decided that the Broken Arrow soundtrack was "too difficult for the public" and showed up to the World Championships two months later skating the traditional Tosca. He won his third straight title.
Michelle Kwan 2000/2001 Short Program
Rush ==> East of Eden
Christopher Dean choreographed the Eric Clapton soundtrack, but Kwan wasn't happy with it and returned to a familiar piece of music, East of Eden. She had used it as part of her long program (1994) and two different times as an exhibition (1996 and 1999), but this was the first time she used it as a short program. She received seven 6.0's at the US Nationals.
Michelle Kwan 2000/2001 Long Program
Miraculous Mandarin ==> Song of the Black Swan
This wasn't a ditching of a program, but rather a second free skate created to compete under the rules of the Grand Prix Final at the time. The Miraculous Mandarin was choreographed by Peter Oppegard, current coach of Yu-Na Kim and now-husband of Michelle's sister, Karen. After the event, she decided to keep Song of the Black Swan and won her fourth World Championship, delivering a flawless performance.
Miki Ando 2008/2009 Long Program
Giselle ==> Symphony No. 3
Ando and teammate Yukari Nakano both chose Giselle for their free skates in 2009, but Miki decided to drop her program for the Saint-Saens Symphony. She would go on to win the bronze medal at the World Championships, while Nakano dropped from first to fifth overall at the Japanese Nationals and failed to qualify for the event.
Shizuka Arakawa 2005/2006 Short Program
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini ==> Fantasie Impromptu
Arakawa dropped Rhapsody before the Olympic Games and converted her Fantasie Impromptu free skate into her new short program. She was 0.71 points behind leader Sasha Cohen after the first night of competition in Torino.
Shizuka Arakawa 2005/2006 Long Program
Fantasie Impromptu ==> Violin Fantasy on Puccini's Turandot
Another change of programs in the Olympic season for Shizuka, as she would return to Vanessa-Mae's rendition of Turandot for the third time in her career. She first skated to it in 2002, and then again in 2004-- the season she was the surprise World Champion. The program once again brought her luck in 2006, as she became the Olympic Champion.
Evan Lysacek 2005/2006 Long Program
Grease ==> Carmen
Lysacek started the season skating to a medley from the Grease soundtrack, but decided that "the music didn't put [him] in the right frame of mind to compete." He made the switch to the ever-popular Carmen, and placed fourth at the Olympic Games in his first trip to the event. He repeated as bronze medalist at the World Championships a month later, coming back from an eighth-place short program finish that left him outside the final free skate group.