Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko is one of the country's biggest stars and was also expected to be one of the biggest draws of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
That hasn't been the case so far as he failed to fill a 12,000-capacity stadium on Thursday that was "more than half-empty when Plushenko first took to the ice for his warm-up before the start of the team event, which is making its Olympic debut."
According to Reuters, even Russian officials noted that "thousands of seats around the arena remained empty for one of the Winter Olympics' blue-riband events."
Plushenko, though, was undeterred, saying the support for him "was incredible."
"Sometimes it helps when people clap but today I felt kind of dizzy, (the noise came) from there, from there, from there, from everywhere," he said. "But it's my fourth Olympic Games, so it was fun. It's something new for me."
First three skaters merely warm-ups for #Plushenko, #Abbott. Crowd explodes as Yevgeny skates out #Sochi2014 pic.twitter.com/wAH1L6FJaO