Davis beats Colbert after reconciling
NEW YORK -- Shani Davis made peace with Stephen Colbert after calling him a "jerk" and then edged the faux pundit by a mere 13 minutes for the final spot on the U.S. Olympic speedskating team.
In a taped segment for Wednesday night's "The Colbert Report," the two faced off in a 500-meter race at the Olympic oval in Salt Lake City, where the American team is training for next month's Vancouver Games.
Colbert phoned up Davis "to apologize for whatever I said that upset you" and then shouted "go" while the gold medalist was still driving to the rink.
With Colbert stumbling all over the ice, Davis leisurely parked his car, signed autographs, sipped from a water fountain and put on his uniform. Then he sped around the oval in a time of 35.24 seconds. Colbert's time -- 13 minutes, 43.89 seconds.
The two shook hands after the "race." As a consolation prize, Colbert was named assistant sports psychologist for the team that his show stepped in to sponsor after the main supporter, a Dutch bank, went bankrupt. His fans, the "Colbert Nation," have donated some $300,000 to make up for the funding shortfall.
Davis called Colbert a "jerk" during a World Cup meet in Canada last month, apparently miffed at the TV personality's mock feud with the Olympic host nation. The reclusive star hasn't elaborated since then.
Apparently, all is forgiven. In the buildup to the race dubbed "Fire On Ice" ("but not actual fire," Colbert pointed out), the host voiced over a report showing the eery parallels in their lives.
For instance, Davis "showed the makings of a champion even as a young boy," while Colbert was "also once a young boy." In 2006, Davis became the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, while Colbert watched "those very same games" on television with chicken parmesan balanced on his belly.
"They were destined to meet," Colbert said dramatically. "Destiny comes today on a frozen oval in Utah."
In a later interview with NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol, whose network will televise the Winter Games, Colbert marveled that racing Davis was "like watching a cheetah on skates."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press