Here's something that's been bothering for a long time: I think figure skating fans are too nationalistic. I remember the forum thread where Johnny's enthusiasm for Russian skaters was deemed as a career risk because it apparently displeased the USFSA.
But I think that kind of attitude of making athletes root for a team as opposed to appreciating fellow skaters from other countries is terrible.
Think about the Asian girls that have begun to dominate ladies figure skating. Can American audiences and skaters be their fans? I bet if Ashley Wagner were to say in an interview that she is inspired by the skating of Mao Asada, the skating community would get all riled up.
Or suppose that Yukari Nakano were to tell the Japanese during an interview that she finds Carolina Kostner's or say Caroline Zhang's skating absolutely breathtaking. God, would they blast her for being unpatriotic.
The whole idea of forcing skaters to only gush about their fellow athletes from the same country passes on to the fans as well. How many American skating fans were happy to see Shizuka Arakawa win the gold at the last Olympics? I don't mean the people on this message board, but the larger audience that includes people who follow skating on and off or not with the same devotion as the people here?
The respect for your own country's athletes only would drive down ratings. Think about the way that Evan Lysachek got hyped this year after doing well at nationals. Realistically speaking people knew that he isn't going to medal at any Worlds anytime soon, but they had to pump up the expectations because American fans don't really care about the other male skaters. What percent of the World championship audience in the US cared about Lambiel and Joubert? Of course, I bet the Japanese are also like that. I'd bet a good lump of cash that the number of Japanese skating viewers who adore Yuna Kim and cheer her on is miniscule to non-existent.