Janesville residents celebrate the Olympics
JANESVILLE — Excitement for the Winter Olympics in Sochi reached its peak in Janesville on Friday night during a viewing party hosted by diehard Rich Fletcher.
Fletcher, a Janesville native who has attended four Olympic games, said that he has hosted parties to celebrate the event for almost a decade.
“It's just something I've always been interested in since I was a kid,” Fletcher said. “I found it fascinating—the idea of the world coming together to compete. It's just an interest that we like to share with others.”
Fletcher has attended the 1996 Atlanta summer games, 2002 Salt Lake City winter games, 2006 Turin winter games and the 2012 London summer games. He said that the London games were probably his favorite.
“London was spectacular,” Fletcher said. “They did a wonderful job. Being a part of it, seeing (Serena) Williams versus (Maria) Sharapova was quite a cool event.”
Fletcher said that he doesn't have a preference between the winter and summer games but appreciates the smaller scale and intimacy at the winter games.
“Ski jumping, figure skating and snowboarding are my favorite winter events,” Fletcher said. “I just like the cool atmosphere. It's a cool experience and fun to see the competition.”
His partner Dan Wilcox has been to two Olympic games himself and said he enjoys the excitement leading up to the games the most.
“We went down when they were determining if it was Chicago and it was a lot of fun,” Wilcox said.
Friday's event featured snacks, drinks, raffles and three large televisions airing the opening of the games for around 50 guests.
“This was my first viewing party and Rich and Andy sure do it right,” Mary Terry said. “I brought Russian vodka. It seemed appropriate. We were coming to an Olympic party so why not.”
When asked why he decided not to attend the Sochi games, Fletcher said that a combination of distance and security factored into the decision.
“It's just such an out-of-the-way place,” Fletcher said. “Logistically it would have been difficult. Then to hear about the security issues, it kind of pushed me away from them.”
He said that he knows people at the Sochi games and they haven't had any trouble yet.
“I don't think anything will happen at the Olympics proper,” Fletcher said. “I think the athletes and the Olympics itself will be safe. What I'm concerned about is outside of the city and the areas around the games.”
Fletcher said he hopes to next attend the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.