Stephen Colbert, the comedy show host who rescued US Speedskating from a sponsor bankruptcy and ripped Canadians as “syrup-suckers”, is bringing his act to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Colbert will broadcast his Comedy Central television show, an over-the-top parody of a conservative talk show called “The Colbert Report”, from Vancouver on Wednesday and Thursday after playing up his Olympic link in recent weeks.
“Without me, they would be racing on butter knives nailed to a pair of (sneakers),” Colbert said on his show last month.
Colbert, who slammed Canadians for not allowing global rivals more pre-Olympic training time at Games venues, was made a US team assistant sport psychologist and looked forward to coming to Canada.
“I’m going to be able to interact with the people of the world and tell them why America is better,” Colbert said on his show.
After Dutch bank DSB went bankrupt to wipe out a 300,000-dollar sponsorship for US Speedskating, viewers known as “Colbert Nation” were among those who donated 300,000 dollars to plug the budget gap.
A Sports Illustrated cover even declared, “Stephen Colbert Saves the Olympics”.
“We’re really fortunate he jumped on board,” said 2006 Olympic 5,000-meter champion Chad Hedrick. “We needed it financially.”
Shani Davis, the world record-holder at 1,000m and 1,500m and defending Olympic 1,000m champion, called Colbert a jerk in December but last month he “raced” Colbert, spotting him 13 minutes and still winning a skate around the 400-meter oval.
“He smoked me like a Virginia ham,” Colbert said. “It was like watching a cheetah on skates.”
Davis settled his differences with Colbert and they might even race again.
“It was fun to meet him in person. He was a really cool guy,” Davis said. “I beat him, so it was even more fun. Maybe we can have a re-match.”
Colbert added to more than just the bottom line for US speedskaters.
“He brought a lot of enthusiasm to the sport normally we don’t get,” said US speedskater Ryan Bedford.
“Not only do we get the funding that we need but also the publicity,” added US short track speedskater Katherine Reutter.
Colbert has also taken his psychologist role to heart.
“He keeps us light-hearted,” US long tracker Lauren Cholewinski said. “We get these funny messages from him that make us laugh.”