Torino is a two-timing hussy of a word. First, it insinuates itself into our hearts as the late-model Ford of Starsky & Hutch fame. Now it’s back as the host city of the 2006 Winter Olympics. In the name of international and automotive understanding, I bring you this special Olympic (note: not Special Olympic) edition of Sports: Explained.

"Is it just me, or are we getting our butts kicked by, like, Norway?”

Sent in by Andy T., South River, NJ

A: It could be you. Are you . . . Sweden? But yeah, much like the Packers, we’ve suffered some embarrassing losses to the Vikings lately. And it hasn’t just been Norway. The rest of Scandinavia and every third Eastern European country has been pretty consistently crushing our hopes and dreams. But, hey, at least we’ve got snowboarding. We always do well in the really casual sports.

"Who’s been the breakout U.S. star of the 2006 Games? Is it Shaun White?”

Sent in by Steve G., Irvine, CA

A: The breakout star of the Winter Olympics is possibly Shaun and definitely White.

"Man, that Dutch speed skater Marianne Timmer is hot. What’s her deal?”

Sent in by Chet I., Camden, AR

A: Timmer? [Wait for it . . .] Hardly even know ‘er! Sorry, I just really like that joke. So versatile. All right, here’s what I know about Timmer: She’s blonde, as required by law in her country. She has three gold medals, and you’ve got no shot at her Netherlands.



Michael Northrop is a writer and editor living in New York. There may be others. Send your sports-related questions to