What skaters can you think of who started their careers known for their athletic ability (perhaps getting referred to as "jumping beans") but who later in their careers became more well known for well-rounded skills and performance ability?
I really appreciated how Tarasova transformed Yagudin from one season to another. I used to find him boring, suddenly he had real programs and lots of passion. He didn't loose his athleticism either.
I must also mention Kristina Czako, though maybe not the exact thing you're asking for. But she skated for years (early debut, 13 I think) being an amazing jumper with no programs, artistry of choreo. Then she got a real choreographer - Igor Bobrin, and she bloomed and really expressed herself. And won silver at Euros.
More so Shen/Zhao than Pang/Tong for me. IMO Pang/Tong always had an innate artistic quality, which is their case was soft and romantic. Also, they may have more potential to grow artistically since they weren't the first pair to be put in the international spotlight. And they trained on their own with Tong as coach for some time. Although this situation had the disadvantage of P/T not having the backing of the Federation or guidance of a coach, it did accord them a lot of freedom.
OTOH, Shen/Zhao entered the international scene at a time when China was closed off from outside influence or help, and skaters were required to skate to Chinese music. I believe that situation changed shortly afterwards, and could even be wrong and it might have changed a bit earlier. But I do remember a commentator saying that the Chinese pairs were limited because they didn't have the inspiration of the opera, like Russian skaters do, or popular culture, like western skaters do. So, presumably they were limited to Chinese music and themes.
Shen/Zhao moved up the ranks quickly because they were acrobatic and athletic, but were constantly criticized for their lack of artistry. While I agree that they were diamonds in the rough, I found those criticisms a bit heavy handed. They were so exciting to watch in the early years of their career, and the same is not true of a lot of young pairs. I know I am in a minority, but I would have given them the 1999 World Champion title over B/S.
I remember hearing that they started holding hands at some point to build a connection with each other. The rest is history.
Their transformation on the ice with Turandot in 2003 remains my favorite moment in FS ever. Slam dunk.
And another skater who evolved from athlete to artist IMO is Kevin Reynolds. Rock'n'roll proved to be the right vehicle for him.
Shen & Zhao (I was impressed with their "Mt. Olympus" program back in 1998)
Todd Eldredge, from the time he skated his "Chaplin" program (circa 1993), and all the more so when he skated to "Gettysburg" in the 1994/1995 season
Well, I'm going to say the two original lady jumping beans, Elaine Zayak and Midori Ito. Zayak started to demonstrate a smoother line in 1983. At the 1984 Olympics, her layback and camel spins were artistically done to the music of Reverie. The triples were still there with great transitions. When she came back in 1994, Elaine showed even more flow, edges, spirals, and speed on her spins. Even her greatest critic Peggy Fleming pointed out that Zayak had style and paid attention to detail.
As for Ito, after her 1989 World championship, she started to show more artistry. Her 1992 Olympic performance to Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 in C minor was elegant. However, I always felt that the flow took away her explosiveness. I loved her free skating program at the 1988 Olympics and I missed that verve in latter routines.
Look at her first seasons as a senior. She was (in my opinion) quite sloppy, her arms were a mess, she went through movements without really connecting to the music. She was extremely fast but uncontrolably so. For sure she worked on her arm positions and of course her connection to music improved the older she became. But as an example Med at 15 was a much more complete artist than Kostner despite poor choreographies, and I'm not even a huge fan!
Look at her first seasons as a senior. She was (in my opinion) quite sloppy, her arms were a mess, she went through movements without really connecting to the music. She was extremely fast but uncontrolably so. For sure she worked on her arm positions and of course her connection to music improved the older she became.