As US Olympian Shani Davis was whipping around the rink Wednesday night en route to a repeat gold medal in the 1,000-meter speedskating finals, he got a few extra cheers from a comedian who's jokes he hasn't always appreciated.
Stephen Colbert, the faux-right wing anchorman and sponsor of the US speedskating team, attended Davis's race and others in between sessions of filming his eponymous television news parody, "The Colbert Report," live in a downtown Vancouver park today and tomorrow.
An invitation to attend the recordings includes a downloadable poster, designed by Shepard Fairey of the Obama Hope design, of a torch-carrying Colbert triumphantly riding a bald eagle into Vancouver. Beneath him appear the words: "Defeat the World!"
But as Davis sailed around the rink today, it's unlikely he was aware of anyone in the audience, let alone Colbert, whom he once called "a jerk."
The two celebrities got off to a rocky start last year when the brash speedskater bristled at Colbert's Canada-bashing schtick.
But they appear to have made up: in December, Colbert challenged Davis to a skating race. Colbert lost, even with the bodysuit-wearing comedian getting a head start while Davis was still driving to the rink.
Colbert became active in the Olympics last fall, when Davis and the US speedskating team became another victim of the world financial crisis. The team's major sponsor, DSB Bank NV, Dutch bank declared bankruptcy in October. Colbert stepped in with a $300,000 fundraising drive, and now the skaters have "Colbert Nation" emblazoned on their uniforms.
“Without me, they would be racing on butter knives nailed to a pair of [sneakers],” Colbert said on his show.
Colbert was then made an official member of the US Team, with the title "assistant sport psychologist," and has since accepted an invitation from the City of Richmond, the home of the Olympic speedskating venue, to be the official Oval ombudsman.
But Colbert said he'll bring more than comedy to the Games.
“We’ll bring snow because I don’t think Vancouver has any,” he said earlier this week in an interview with the Associated Press, taking a dig at an Olympics where officials have had to truck and fly in enough snow for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events, with some even calling it the "Rain Games."
Colbert has also tried bobsledding and curling. Click here to see him ride a broom as if playing Quidditch during a curling match against the US team, shouting to the 'sweepers' at one point, "I want to be able to eat off that ice!" And here he is zooming down the Lake Placid bobsled track, which he likened to "riding down a hill in an open casket":