Sidetracked: Tucker Trains Stephen Colbert


By: Melissa S. Wollering

When Stephen Colbert stepped up to sponsor the U.S. Olympic Speedskating Team, he went all-in.  First, he (with the help of fans) dished out $300,000 to cover what Dutch Bank DSB wouldn’t.  Then, he challenged Shani Davis to a skate-off, after Davis allegedly called him a jerk.  When Davis accepted, Colbert decided he needed a teacher.  Not just any teacher—the world’s best.

Enter Wisconsin native and Team USA’s Tucker Fredricks.  We introduced you to the Janesville resident several months ago in this TSB feature. Not only did Tucker teach Comedy Central’s gem to skate on The Colbert Report, but this month’s segment took on a life all its own, landing everyone—including Tucker’s mom—on national television.

“It was a really funny skit,” says Fredricks.  “It was a blast, and he is a really funny guy.”

Colbert flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Tucker trains and keeps an apartment.  Just helping Colbert stand up straight on skates was nothing short of an achievement for Tucker, who used a few of his own one-liners in the taping.

“Yes the skin suit makes you look fat,” Tucker told Colbert.  “Put your right arm out.  [Colbert sticks his left arm up.] No, your right!”

When Colbert asks if Tucker has ever seen anyone skate at a similar speed, Tucker automatically replies, “My mom.”

Conveniently, Shaun Fredricks was in the stands.  She strapped on some skates, jumped onto the ice and raced Colbert for the cameras. They were evenly matched.  Shaun squeaked out a victory, to which Colbert replied, “bullsh*t.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think your Mom cheated,” says Colbert.

“Are you calling my mother a cheater?” asks Fredricks.  “Forget it, we’re done.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Skate Expectations – Speedskating Team Training – Tucker Fredricks
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‘Colbert Nation’ can be seen on the team’s uniforms—right on skaters’ enormous billboard thighs—where Colbert claims everyone will be looking as each skater comes around the final turn in Vancouver.

“It will be easy to see because it will be in first place,” Colbert told reporters.

Well-known Apolo Anton Ohno loves the sponsorship.

“I personally love Comedy Central and the Colbert Report,” Ohno wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “Any attention the sport can get is going to be beneficial.  I’d like to see how creative they can get!  I’m game to do a skit about it.”

Tucker Fredricks already has. His training leading up to the games has been consistent and slightly more intense over the last several weeks.  Tucker leaves for Vancouver on February 2.  From that point on, Tucker will try to be in peak performance mode for the two weeks leading up to his race.

“The goals speedskaters set for themselves are very different; anything from just feeling good on their skates to winning Olympic gold,” says Fredricks.  “A few of the goals I would still like to accomplish would be to earn the title of World Champion in the 500m, World Record holder in the 500m, and yes, an Olympic Gold Medal in the 500m.”

Fredricks will skate the 500m in the Vancouver Olympics on February 15th.  Watch NBC on Monday, February 15th to support our own Tucker Fredricks as well as his mother Shaun and his father Dan, who will both be in attendance.

“I’m very proud to be from the Midwest. It’s a great place to grow up and the quality of people is just amazing. I’ve had a lot of support from the people in my hometown and I hope I can make them proud.”

Look for more as we follow Tucker on his quest for Gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Remember, you read it here first at The

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  1. paulmbanks says

    he’s by far my favorite talk show host. Love the “rapport” and especially the “spor repor”

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