U.S. skating star calls team patron Colbert ‘a jerk’

Stephen Colbert’s Canadian-bashing isn’t sitting well with at least one American speedskating star.

CALGARY — Stephen Colbert’s Canadian-bashing isn’t sitting well with at least one American speedskating star.

“He’s a jerk,” Shani Davis said Thursday when asked for his take on the popular mock-pundit’s criticism of Canucks. “You can put that in the paper.”

The mercurial Davis declined to elaborate, making the comment while vetting potential questions from The Canadian Press before rejecting an interview request and walking away.

But Davis has ties to Canada after training out of Calgary in previous years, and has also had past differences with U.S. Speedskating, which is now being sponsored by the comedian who hosts the The Colbert Report.

Publicists for Colbert did not respond to requests for comment.

Colbert stepped into a void for the American skaters after the team was left with a US$300,000 shortfall when Dutch bank DSB declared bankruptcy and pulled out of its sponsorship.

He put up a fundraising link on his popular website — a similar plan helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for wounded American soldiers and their families — in exchange for becoming the skating body’s primary sponsor.

Soon after Colbert used his show to aim some pointed barbs north of the border, describing Canadians as “ice-holes” while picking up on complaints that Vancouver officials have been limiting access to 2010 Games facilities for international athletes.

“Those syrup-suckers won’t let us practise at their Olympic venues,” Colbert said. “At the Salt Lake Games, we let the Canadian luge team take 100 practice run. . . and you know how Mormons feel about two men lying down on each other.

“Tonight I’m calling on Saskatchewhiners to unclench their frosty sphincters and let Americans on to their oval.”

The issue of access to the Richmond Olympic Oval is one that resonates with the U.S. skaters, although they’re far more diplomatic about it than their wise-guy patron.

“It’s the Olympics, the point of the Olympics is to bring the whole world together and by doing that they’re kind of separating themselves off from the world,” said rising star Trevor Marsicano.

“The way I see it, they’re saying either we’re not good enough to come in or they’re just thinking they want to have the most experience in that rink, more than anybody else.

“It’s the way it is. I’m not going to complain about it.”