Millrose Games (track and field)
Big-city elegance and energy is what fans expect and traditionally get from this meet in New York's Madison Square Garden. Races on the banked wooden track are a highlight. The US indoor circuit then moves to Reno, Nev.; Fairfax, Va.; and Atlanta.
February 2 and 4
United States vs. Norway (women's soccer)
Norway wrested the world championship from the United States last summer in Sweden, but now the US will enjoy the home-field advantage, just as it will throughout the inaugural women's Olympic tournament this summer. The teams meet twice in Florida, where the US squad trains: first in Tampa, then in Jacksonville.
Other pro sports play all-star games in midseason. Not the National Football League, which prefers to protect its stars from extracurricular collisions until a week after the Super Bowl. The players often arrive in Honolulu (the game's regular site) with vacations, not mayhem, on their minds.
NBA All-Star weekend
San Antonio hosts the league's midseason extravaganza, which includes a slam-dunk contest and long-distance shootout. Wide-open, pedal-to-the-metal offensive basketball is the norm in the contest between the Eastern and Western conferences.
Davis Cup tennis, opening round
This annual team competition is played on the installment plan, with four rounds interspersed throughout the tennis year. The 1995 playoff ended just two months ago when Pete Sampras led the United States to victory over Russia. Now it starts all over again with 16 teams battling at eight global sites. The US should breeze past Mexico in Carlsbad, Calif.
February 10 and 17
US Olympic marathon trials
Two races decide which Americans earn berths in this summer's Olympic marathon. The first, in Columbia, S.C., is for women, with 1984 Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson among those vying for a top-three finish. The men race the following Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. With $250,000 on the line in each event, there's a lot more than airfare to Atlanta riding on the outcome.
World Alpine Ski Championships
Postponed last season for lack of snow in Sierra Nevada, Spain, the alpiners will try again to hold this biennial event that ranks with the Olympics in importance.
With a major rift dividing Indy-car racing, the Daytona 500 could be America's premier auto-racing event this year. It's the kickoff for the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) circuit that has soared in popularity in recent years.
Champions Series Finals (figure skating)
Paris hosts the first ''Super Bowl'' of a new, five-event season organized by the International Skating Union, the sport's governing body. Entry is limited to the top performers from a grand prix series, which includes invitational meets in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.