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:

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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

Lindsey Vonn: I don’t know if I’ll ski slalom again

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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