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Stephen Colbert cheers Shani Davis in Vancouver Olympics

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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.

“It was a really genius skit,” Davis told The New York Times last week, as he prepared for this week's competition.

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.

In similar publicity stunts, the comedian has lent his name to a NASA treadmill used in the international space station (COLBERT) and to a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream flavor (Americone Dream).

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