shani davis

Shani Davis

Tearful Shani Davis returns to the top at World Championships

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Shani Davis captured his first World Championship in four years, taking the 1000m gold in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Saturday.

Later, countrywoman Heather Richardson took the first World Single Distance Championships gold of her career in the 500m. And the biggest Dutch star, Sven Kramer, kept his winning streak alive in the 5000m.

Davis, 32, clocked 1:08.57 in the 1000m to prevail by .04 over Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia. The Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis won bronze. It’s a major victory for Davis, a two-time Olympic champion in the event.

“I’ve always tried to win on Thialf [the name of the ice arena in Heerenveen] in the Single Distances, and I never, ever had a chance to do it,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “My last opportunity before they break down the building, I won the race. I’m so happy and thrilled. I was crying I was so happy.

“When have you ever seen me cry after a race?”

He had not finished better than third in any World Cup race this season and was fourth in the World Championships 1500m on Friday.

Before the World Championships, Davis said he would retire next season if his results didn’t improve.

Davis was eighth in the 1000m at the Sochi Olympics and took bronze at the 2013 World Championships.

“I needed something to show me that I still have what it takes and that I need to continue on,” Davis told NOS. “It’s the best way for me to top the season after having so many bad races. … I couldn’t be happier with myself than I am right now.”

Richardson, a two-time Olympian, continued her stellar form this season by handing two-time Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa her first defeat in the 500m at a World Championships or Olympics since 2011.

Richardson was eighth in the 500m at the Sochi Olympics but earned her first global championship medal in the event Saturday. Teammate Brittany Bowe earned silver in a reverse of their one-two finish from the 1000m on Friday.

But the loudest cheers in Heerenveen were for Kramer, who trailed countryman Jorrit Bergsma‘s time in the 5000m midway through his pair. But Kramer eventually got under Bergsma’s pace and prevailed by 1.88 seconds.

Kramer, 28, has not lost a World Championships or Olympic 5000m since 2006. Bergsma, 29, took silver after he won the 10,000m on Thursday without Kramer in the field.

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Shani Davis will retire if results don’t improve

Shani Davis
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Shani Davis said he will retire from speed skating next season if he can’t perform better on the World Cup circuit.

Davis, 32 and a four-time Olympic medalist, hasn’t finished better than third in 16 World Cup races this season, according to

“If I can’t fix this by next year, I’m going to stop,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “I’m not a middle-type-of-the-pack skater. If I’m not competitive with the rest of the world, and I’m sixth and seventh and eighth, whatever, then it’s not for me. I can happily move on.”

At the Sochi Olympics, Davis finished eighth and 11th in the 1000m and 1500m, after winning gold and silver medals in those distances in 2006 and 2010. The entire U.S. long track speed skating team struggled in Sochi, winning zero medals.

Davis, long known for training largely on his own, said he’s open to joining a speed skating team.

“In the past, I was able to do it by myself,” Davis said. “I was a true phenom talent. I think if I was younger, it’s possible for me to do it by myself. But, the way things are now, it’s really difficult. I would need some more structure, some more training partners and things like that.”

Davis will compete in the World Single Distance Championships in the Netherlands this weekend.

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Stephen Colbert and the Olympics

Stephen Colbert
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Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert signs off of “The Colbert Report” on Thursday, ending an impressive run as one of TV’s most recognized hosts.

Colbert is also a friend to the Olympics, particularly to US Speedskating leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. He promoted US Speedskating on his show, and thanks to the Colbert Nation, helped the organization recoup funding when it lost a major sponsor, leaving a $300,000 hole.

Sports Illustrated put Colbert (in a skinsuit) on its cover for their efforts.

Colbert had Olympic medalist speed skaters including Joey Cheek, Dan Jansen and Katherine Reutter on his show. You may remember Colbert autographing Reutter’s thigh (video here) and racing Shani Davis (video here).

Colbert then traveled to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics as the assistant sports psychologist for the US Speedskating team.

“The players relate to me because I provided them with cash,” Colbert joked in an NBC Olympics interview with Bob Costas on the late-night broadcast on Feb. 17, 2010. “That’s not the kind of bond you can get by being competent.”

At the end of the interview, Colbert crawled into the fireplace on the NBC Olympics set in the international broadcast center.

Colbert also hosted his show from Vancouver and had Costas come on and ride a fake moose named “Ebersol.”

Colbert also was at the Richmond Olympic Oval for Davis’ victory in the 1000m. He spent part of his time in spectator seating reading an issue of “Cat Fancy” and “Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies” and spreading condiments on a sandwich with a skate blade.

Two nights later, a second Costas-Colbert interview aired on late night. Colbert was dressed in a full Mountie outfit. Colbert paid respect to a nation of people he previously called syrup-suckers, iceholes and Saskatchewiners and rode the moose, which by then had migrated to the NBC set and was renamed “Colbert.”

This year, Colbert had on Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. He accused White of hair doping (video here).

A photographic look back at Colbert and the Olympics from Getty Images:

Stephen Colbert, dressed as a Mountie, with Johnny Weir.

source: Getty Images

source: Getty Images
Colbert with members of the Night Train four-man bobsled that would win gold at the 2010 Olympics.
source: Getty Images
Colbert taking a skeleton run in Lake Placid, N.Y.

source: Getty Images

source: Getty Images

source: Getty Images

source: Getty Images

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