<blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>If the secret judges had given them silver I can tell you right now that there would have been the biggest riot EVER in Washington D.C. One person I talked to said she would have ripped the seats out and tossed them. The judges would have been rushed and, although Speedy left his seat in front of us before the scores were displayed, he would have been found and torn limb to limb. [/quote]
The above is a quote from piddlediddle in the Wow Wow Wow Shen and Zhao thread in the world's folder. Quite a statement of support for a crowd of people who didn't speak the same language, had little culturally or politically in common with the skaters in question. I felt the same wave of suppressed violence that piddlediddle did. I felt the audience would have done bad things if the judges had not given the gold medal to Shen and Zhao. And I found this really amazing.
Zhao is also quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "This is the best audience, " and also as saying, "After the second throw jump, I felt I belonged to the audience." I find these statements amazing too, and think it is worth thinking about how Shen and Zhao became so attached to this audience.
When I first got to Washington, I had one of those Duh moments. I had not realized that the Chinatown section of DC was so very, very clearly Chinese that all the buildings, including the MCI center and the Red Roof Inn had signs in Chinese characters and that one of those big formal decorated Chinese arches was over one of the streets to mark the area. When I first saw this, I wondered how it would play into the performance of the Chinese skaters. I wondered if the fact that the rink was in Chinatown and that the place is packed with Chinese speaking people and Chinese restaurants would make the Chinese skaters feel more at home, more comfortable, and whether there would be a reverse effect: would the largely North American audience feel more connection with the Chinese skaters than they ordinarily do (LuLu excepted of course, she always connected).
And in fact, it appeared to happen. Both Shen and Zhao felt very connected to the audience, and the audience felt it, responded, and were as vehemently partisan in their support of Shen and Zhao as they were of Michelle Kwan. Zhang and Zhang and Pang and Tong gave good performances as well. Later Chienjiang Li would give his best ever performance, and 2 of Dan Fang's 3 performances were very good. She had problems with here LP though. So it was a very good outing for the Chinese skaters in all disciplines.
Contrast this with the performance of the French team, where the French are not a favorite in DC. I wonder whether the French skaters came nervous, wondering as we wondered, whether DC would boo their performances, feeling very, very much like foreigners. While the audience did not boo, in fact Jeannette gave no good performances, and Joubert gave a dreadful performance in the qualifying round. Abitol and Bernadis were mostly affected by injuries, so it's hard to say whether they were additionally bothered by the hostile atmosphere of Freedom Fries and such like sayings. Delobel and Schoenfelder, who could reasonably be expected to score ahead of B&A and/or L&T were behind both of them. All in all, Calvez was the bright spot, and she was way back in the ladies pack.
So there is a question in here: What makes an audience and a skater bond? Obviously, a great performance is the trump card, but how much of a role does the expectation of a good reception by the skater play into it?
Is there a visualization technique hiding in here? Should skaters be saying as a mantra, "I love them, I really love them?" Should the skaters seek to belong to the audience rather than striving to control them?
What's the best way to connect to the audience, other than being the hometown hero? (Which is a risky role, full of the stress of expectations, as Michael Weiss found?)