Here's what I'd like to do... for each senior Grand Prix event that transpires this season, I'll choose a few competitors for whom I'll compare/contrast last year's program to this one (the Free Skate in this case). Do we like the new stuff we see? Do we miss the stuff we don't? Can we miss it if it hasn't gone away (aka keeping last year's music)? Let's find out...
Jeremy Abbott (finished 5th)—so far, I’ve got to admit that his new FS (to “Bring Him Home”) is not my favorite of his. And that’s not because he had difficulties with it at SKAM. When Abbott said in the spring that he’d be keeping one of last year’s programs into 2012-13, I hoped it would be the Muse piece (“Exogenesis Symphony Pt. 3”). Seems he had a change of heart somewhere in there. To me, the new FS feels like a Muse sequel of sorts—similar in theme, and lovely enough, but not quite able to compete with “the original.” At this point, I kind of wish he’d gone in a whole different direction... (especially when it comes to choreographing back-to-back triple axels-- no, that's insane, cut it out!!)
Michal Brezina (finished 6th)—aha, a trick question because it’s the same “Untouchables” program as last year. Though I haven’t checked the numbers, I read that this year’s performance at SKAM actually scored higher than last year’s—which won the event! In any case, I wish he wasn’t in the habit of keeping programs for 2 seasons each. What sounded exciting for him last year is already sounding tired to me.
Yuzuru Hanyu (won silver)—last year’s modern-day Romeo & Juliet vs. this year’s more traditional Notre Dame de Paris? I choose Notre Dame...so far... but then again, I wasn’t a huge fan of his other program.
Ashley Wagner (won gold)—I’m going to vote for the new FS (Sampson & Delilah) even though I LOOVED her Black Swan. Why? It’s about timing: Black Swan was her breakout season. Sampson feels more like music for someone who has already “broken out” and is now ascending at a healthy pace. I’m not sure yet about the orange dress (then again, I’m not a big fan of orange), but I like the progression just fine.
Christina Gao (won silver)-- aha, another FS repeat from last year (Liebertango)... perhaps because she’s a Harvard student now and was doing well just to train and get ONE new program together? Whatever the reason, I wasn’t even sure it was the same thing until I looked it up—that’s how night-and-day different this was from her last GP performance of it... at 2011 Rostelecom Cup, where she finished 10th.
Alena Leonova (finished 7th)—Uh, what was the new FS? Oh, a flamenco number called “Poeta” (Vicente Amigo)... why don’t I remember it? Because she skated in the first group Sunday and I haven’t even taken a look at it yet. That being said, I still choose this year’s music. Why? Because it contains nary a note of anything from Requiem for a Dream (Nightmare), that’s why. And that’s all I need to know.