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Fourth-Place Medal

T-minus one year: Events to watch to prepare you for the 2014 Winter Olympics

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Gracie Gold will skate at Worlds. (Getty)

The 2014 Winter Olympics officially open one year from today. Do you want to be the super cool person at the water cooler who can impress everyone with your Winter Olympic knowledge? Circle these dates on your calendar and start paying attention to the your favorite winter sports right now.

Feb. 20 — Mar. 3, Nordic World Championships: In Val di Fiemme, Italy, cross country skiers and ski jumpers will show off who the best in the world are. At the last Winter Games in Vancouver, the United States won medals in Nordic combined (cross country skiing and ski jumping). That was a first for the U.S. team, so check in to see if they can get a streak going. Also, women's ski jumpers will be in the Olympics for the first time, and you can see who the early favorites to win the first gold will be.

Mar. 12 — Mar. 20, Figure Skating World Championships: Figure skaters will flock to London, Ont., for the world championships in just over a month from now. It's a key event because it's where figure skaters will qualify for spots in the Olympics. The number of spots each country gets it based on the place of each skater. American women had just two spots in the last Olympics, and are hoping Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold can place high enough to earn three spots.

Mar. 13 — Mar. 17, World Cup Alpine Skiing: Though Lindsey Vonn is out after her crash earlier this week, the final World Cup event in skiing will be important for American skiers Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety.

May 3 — May 19, Ice Hockey World Championships: Sweden and Finland will co-host this event that will pit 16 of the world's top hockey teams against each other. It begins after the NHL regular season ends, meaning teams could have some NHL representatives from teams that didn't make the Stanley Cup playoffs. Even without them, it will give hockey fans an idea of who will shine in Sochi.

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