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Thread: Thoughts on DC, Relation of Skaters to the Audience

  1. #1

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    Thoughts on DC, Relation of Skaters to the Audience

    <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?)


  2. #2

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    Re: Thoughts on DC, Relation of Skaters to the Audience

    Good question, Doris -What makes the audience and the skater connect? Shen and Zhao definitely did in DC. There was no cultural or political connections. It was just perfect skating which even the novice viewer got into without knowing it.

    Their private lives have been just that. No complaining; no bragging; no special publicity. The couple have been around for a while. They were the "also skating" pair last year. The audience knew them. They took to the ice and after the first perfect move the audience applauded and after a series of perfect moves, the audience was theirs. The tumultous ending of Turandot combined with the last two or three moves had the audience tensing up for a perfect routine. S&Z gave them just that.

    While this was the biggest ovation, others who reached a similar connection with the audience were Kwan, Lambiel, Janhke, Borne and Kranz, and yes, even Timmy.

    I think when a skater is doing perfect skating half way through his program, the tension between the audience and the skater begins. Thrilling!!!


  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on DC, Relation of Skaters to the Audience

    ITA about the emotional connection with the audience. Lambiel was pretty much an unknown, but his LP was so witty & great in its design (and he skated it so well) that you HAD to give him a standing O. His free skate wasn't executed as well, but the program had a lot of personality and he still got a warm ovation, since he was able to rebound from his disasterous SP. I am so glad I saw his qualifying skate, since it was probably the 3rd best 'skate' of the entire men's competition.

    From what I remember, Joubert was one of the first 'big name' skaters to perform on opening day. It was quite early. I think the French guys could have really captialized on the fact that Europeans was broadcast just 2 days earlier on US tv, where both of them were medalists and skated well. Joubert got a very warm ovation, but he skated to poorly that it was hard to really cheer, even for a big fan like myself. Same with Jeanette. We kept rooting them on throughout the competetion and in practices. Joubert had good practices, but Jeanette looked miserable. Everyone cheered loudly when they had good short programs, and Joubert was probably one spin away from getting a standing O in the LP. Everyone roared after her did the 2nd quad.

    I have to say that Dan Fang had one great event and really connected with the audience. CC Li showed more of an effort to connect with the audience. Those little devil's horns he did in the LP really got the audience giggling. He ran out of gas a little bit, but I think it was his ability to finally connect with the audience that pushed him into 4th. I think the Chinese pair proves that it doesn't matter where you are from. If you can make your program 'sing' you will be rewarded by the audience.

  4. #4
    Jules Asner

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    How about we petition ABC to show us some of those great qualifying LP's. I would love to see Sasha's as well as Lambiel's. Anyone else do great in the qualifying?

    S&Z an MK were the best two performances by far shown on tv. I was giving them a standing ovation in my living room!

  5. #5

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    Great Qualifying Skates

    For the women:

    Dan Fang
    Jennifer Robinson (2nd in her group, tried a 3-3!)
    Arakawa skated fairly well if I remember correctly


    Kevin VDP
    Ryan Janke (superb)
    I think Davydof skated well too

    I was a little annoyed that they didn't air Joubert's 6th place FS as well.

  6. #6

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    Re: Great Qualifying Skates

    I think there were many things which contributed for the audience to love Shen & Zhao´s freeskate so much and for this wonderful connection between the audience and the skaters:

    - their impressive and beautiful skating, enormous throws
    - great choreography by Lea Ann Miller (what an excellent idea for them to have an American choreographer for the American audience...!!!) skated with great feeling
    - very pleasant looking costumes (no reason for the American audience to get distracted by these)

    I would say that all things were considered carefully through with good taste (no over the top going melodrama), and the result was the second Worlds title for this excellent pair and the love of the audience. What a performance, definetely one to keep and watch again and again.


  7. #7

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    Re: Great Qualifying Skates

    I also think the people who knew about Xue Shen's injury were very impressed with the way they overcame the injury and had the skate of their life while she could hardly feel her landing foot. There is just something in stories like that which makes people want to root for the person.

    Also I think their program that night just had that special something that reached out and grabbed the audiences. It's hard to describe, and doesn't come along too often, but when it does you can't match that feeling.

    ~ Jen

  8. #8
    Princess Leppard 625

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    Re: Great Qualifying Skates

    Plush's Carmen in the QR was amazing. I would love to see that again.

    Joubert, poor baby, had to skate so early Monday morning, and then I heard there was a fire alarm at the Metro the night before? Can anyone confirm this? I think the article I read said it affected Joubert and Timmy, but he skated much later. So maybe that explains the skate? But, wow, Brian came back magnificently, and I wish y'all could see his FS. It was great.



  9. #9

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    Kind of

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Joubert, poor baby, had to skate so early Monday morning, and then I heard there was a fire alarm at the Metro the night before? Can anyone confirm this? I think the article I read said it affected Joubert and Timmy, but he skated much later. So maybe that explains the skate? But, wow, Brian came back magnificently, and I wish y'all could see his FS. It was great.[/quote]

    Here are a few blurbs about it.

    He was at the same hotel as Ryan Janhke (I don't know if Tim was staying there), and apparently a fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and they all had to evacuate. Brian said it shook him up and he couldn't go back to sleep, but Ryan had an amazing qualifying skate.

    It's unfortunate. As if the French skaters weren't stressed enough last week!

  10. #10

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    Re: Kind of

    <span style="color:blue;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:x-small;"><strong>
    aww that is terrible
    poor guys
    but they were able to pull it together in the long
    well Brian was, I do not know where Ryan ended up

  11. #11

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    Re: Thoughts on DC, Relation of Skaters to the Audience


    The same thing would have happened if Bourne and Kraatz had been handed the silver medal. It's an interesting question. In figure skating, fans form a certain "bond" with a skater or skating pair (ice dance or pairs) over the course of the skaters career. If they have been around as long as Bourne and Kraatz have for example, that bond just gets stronger and stronger. Fans have good memories. They remember past performances of a particular skater or skaters that they loved and connect on that level. Also the personality of the skaters come through during a performance and in the off ice interviews. We came to know Bourne and Kraatz in Canada simply as Shae and Vic - the kids next door. I think in answer to your question the best way for a skater or skaters to become loved by an audience is to just be genuine - on and off the ice. I think the fans see that in Bourne and Kraatz and Shen and Zhao. They want to embrace them.


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