Saturday Night at the Movies

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Take Two: A Pair of Forgotten Classics

At the elite level, constructing a competitive routine takes many months. Once a skater's team has woven complex choreography around each element, the program is honed through endless repetitions, followed by feedback from officials and judges alike.

However, something that works on paper may or may not have the desired impact in competition.

Here are two examples of programs that never made it to Worlds, but are still classics in their own right.

Lu Chen quickly made a name for herself on the international scene.

Rising from 11th place at her first senior worlds in 1991 to 3rd the following season, she became China's first skater to earn them a championship medal. A dazzling technician from the outset, she was given ready access by her federation to brilliant choreographers such as Sandra Bezic, Leanne Miller, and Toller Cranston.

For the 1991/92 competitive season, Chen skated to selections from the films Ghost and Beetlejuice (used at both the junior and senior levels) for her short program.
At 1992 Skate America she debuted a new short program for the 1992/93 season. Showcasing a more sophisticated look thanks to Tom Dickson's attuned musical ear, Chen floated through Claude Bolling's "Suite For Flute" with elegant ease.

However, at the 1993 World Championships, she unexpectedly returned to her previous season's short program, finishing fifth in that portion of the event. Up against America's glamorous Nancy Kerrigan and Ukraine's theatrical Oksana Bauil (who placed first and second in the short), it is a decision that may in part have cost Chen the world title.

Throughout her career, Michelle Kwan was known for programs with searing musical scores, chosen to highlight her youthful charisma. By the new millennium, she was no longer a teenager, but a young woman.

Her short program for the 2000/01 season reflected a new on - ice maturity. Choreographed by Christopher Dean to an Eric Clapton guitar riff from the movie "Rush," opinions were somewhat mixed.

With the skater used to perfect marks for artistic impression, It was no surprise that by the time U.S. nationals rolled around, Kwan was skating to a brand new program featuring music that was an old favorite, "East of Eden."