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MORSI PICCOLI (small bites)

THUMBS UP

Shizuka Arakawa. She wins her country's first medal of the Games, and it's gold, and it's in the showcase event, and it's done with a brilliant performance.

THUMBS DOWN

Sasha Cohen. Sometimes living up to your reputation isn't a good thing.

QUOTE

"The Olympics are on everything - my wristwatch, my eyeglasses. When I flush my toilet, I see a hologram of Bode Miller going downhill."

- Preston Beckman, chief scheduler at Fox, doing his part to mock NBC for its coverage

LEARN THE LANGUAGE

"WHO?"

Chi (Kee)

Q&A

Who was the first alpine skier to win three gold medals in one Olympics?

A. Toni Sailer, Austria

B. Albert Tomba, Italy

C. Jean-Claude Killy, France

Answer

A. (1956)

BY THE NUMBERS

50

Age of Canadian curler Russ Howard, assured of at least a silver medal, making him the oldest medalist in Winter Games history

1.2-million

Dollars the Italian government is spending at the Games to promote native food

BIGGER THAN BELBIN

The top five sports searches on Yahoo on Wednesday:

1. Winter Olympics

2. Sasha Cohen

3. NASCAR

4. NBA

5. Tanith Belbin

HE'S A MAN ABOUT NOTHING

Getting to know Charles Ryan Leveille, the American speed skater taking Shani Davis' spot in the 10,000 meters: The 22-year-old's favorite TV show is Seinfeld. He looks for Seinfeldian moments in life. All he wanted for Christmas was a Seinfeld DVD box set. His hair look's like Kramer's, minus a few inches on top. He has man hands.

A NATION IN CRISIS, PART I

"GAME OVER" was the headline on the front page of the newspaper's Thursday Olympic supplement.

And those Norwegians always seemed like such nice, easygoing people. At least they do at the Norway outpost in EPCOT. But they get pretty cranky when their Olympic team doesn't live up to their expectations.

By the end of competition Wednesday, the winter-sports-loving country had won just two gold medals - fewer than Estonia - and had 18 medals total. It was on track for its worst Winter Games showing in 18 years.

The newspaper Aftenposten got dramatic with its big headline after Norway didn't medal in the cross-country skiing sprints it had been favored to win - cross-country is Norway's national sport - and that added to failures in other cross-country events and biathlon.

Also on Wednesday, Norway lost to archrival Sweden in a womens' curling semifinal.

"Swedes rejoice over our Olympic fiasco," Oslo's VG newspaper spread on its front page.

A NATION IN CRISIS, PART II

On the front page of the Toronto Sun the day after Canada's men's hockey team exited with a third shutout loss:

"Hey, Can She Play Hockey?" beside a picture of speed skater Cindy Klassen, who won gold that day in the women's 1,500 meters.

SPOILING A GOOD APPETITE

As if being a sponsor of Bode Miller isn't bad enough for the Barilla pasta people at these Games, no one's liking their food much, either.

Complaints about what's being served in and around Turin are widespread, and Barilla has donated some of what's on the plates being pushed aside.

Barilla has been making up to 400 plates of spaghetti a day at athletes villages for skiers and bobsledders. (American skier Ted Ligety, who won gold in the combined, left a plate of pasta with tomato sauce half finished on the eve of the giant slalom, which he bombed out of).

Barilla also set up two restaurants outside Turin where it planned to serve almost a ton of pasta to visitors.

The company wouldn't say how much money it poured into this effort. It said that this is part of its marketing plan to serve pasta dinners at big sporting events.

FOR YOUR ACADEMY AWARD CONSIDERATION ...

The latest development in the Austrian blood doping scandal - disgraced ski coach Walter Mayer saying he tried to kill himself when he crashed into a police roadblock while fleeing the Games - moved International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to say, "Not even Hollywood could come up with a scenario like it."

Oh, yes it could.

And as long as Mayer's car chase with the police could take up about 15 minutes of screen time, it would be in production starring Vin Diesel faster than Shani Davis can bolt from a news conference.

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