Olympic gold medallist Dan Jansen, left, and The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert announced the show has become the primary sponsor of the U.S. speedskating team for the Vancouver Olympics. (Kris Long/Comedy Central/Associated Press) Vancouver Olympic officials are defending themselves after an attack by U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert, who accused Canadians of cheating by preventing U.S. athletes from getting enough ice time on the Richmond, B.C., speedskating oval.
VANOC's Renee Smith-Valade said she gets the jokes, but the American team and all other international teams are being treated fairly.
"He's just trying to push our buttons. I like Stephen Colbert, I think he's funny," said Smith-Valade.
'I'm calling on Saskatche-whiners to unclench their frosty sphincters and let Americans on to their oval.'—U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert
The popular comedian, whose Comedy Central show The Colbert Report is a satire of right-wing cable TV talk shows, recently signed on as the sponsor of the U.S. speedskating team after the previous sponsor, Dutch bank DSB, went bankrupt in October.
On Thursday's show, Colbert turned his attention to the team's access to the Canadian ice.
"Those syrup suckers won't let us practice at their Olympic venues.… At the Salt Lake Games, we let the Canadian luge team take 100 practice runs ... and you know how Mormons feel about two men lying down on each other," said the tongue-in-cheek night talk-show host.
The Richmond Olympic Oval will be the site for the speedskating events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)The Richmond Oval, located south of Vancouver, is the host venue for the long-track speedskating events at the 2010 Winter Olympics in February.
"Tonight I'm calling on Saskatche-whiners to unclench their frosty sphincters and let Americans on to their oval," said Colbert, who was apparently unaware that the Olympics were being held in Vancouver, not Saskatchewan.
During the show, Colbert also held up a sign saying "Canadian ice-holes," and claimed the Canadian national anthem was the theme song Quebec singer Céline Dion performed for the Titanic movie.
Access was fair: VANOC
But VANOC maintains it is playing by the rules.
"We've offered ample training time to international teams, including the U.S. team," said Smith-Valade. "We had training earlier this year for international teams and we're working right now to offer one more session of access to the international teams before the games."
Some international teams even failed to show up for their training sessions and the Oval sat empty, said Smith-Valade, but she couldn't say if the U.S. was one of those teams.
"The rules are — and they are very clearly set by the ISU, the International Skating Union — that the organizing committee for the Games offers a set amount of international team training time," she said.