One more very important point to make re the Quad- it is still not clear whether programs loaded with quads will in fact become "the norm" in men's figure skating, and this is due in part to the emerging understanding of what a toll quad jumping takes on the body. All 3 of the 2002 medalists have suffered severe repercussions as a result of their constant quad jumping. I listened to Tim Goebel's TSL interview last night and was struck by how squarely he puts the blame for his terrible injuries and decline on his repeated quads. He gives some hope in that he says younger skaters coming up need to practice quads less often and they need to do more stretching and compensatory strengthening to offset some of the issues that can arise, but it is clear that doing so many quads came at a price for him- he lost a few precious years of his competitive prime and has had surgeries while still battling chronic pain. The same is true of young girls who did too many triple-triples- Tara L being a prime example. I don't think that pushing men's figure skating forward necessarily needs to involve a continual upgrade in difficulty, especially if that upgrade leads to careers being cut short, athletes requiring surgery, etc.I think that in 1994 the quad was still something of a novelty. But by 2002 it had become the difference between men's and women's skating. The 2002 men's Olympic podium did seven quads in the free skate (Yagudin 2, Plushenko 2, Goebel 3). Everybody and his brother tried at least one.
The CoP changed the game, in my opinion for the better in this regard. Suddenly there were more than one way to skin the cat. IMHO there is more to figure skating than now many times you can revolve in the air in four-and-a-half minutes. Blade to ice skills came back into the picture. Patrick Chan -- love him or leave him -- is a good example of what the CoP, after a number of adjustments and tweaks, is looking for now.
About Plushenko, he has always front-loaded his programs with spectacular fireworks, at the calculated risk of running out of steam in the second half. In 2002 his first three jumping passes were 4T+3T (+3Lo attempt, step out), 4T, and 3A+half-loop+3F. Later on he slowed down and doubled an intended triple Salchow.