The most striking images of European sports come together in our top 10. Here they are, along with the inside stories from the expert photographers that shot them.

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Jan Matura of the Czech Republic jumps during the Men's Normal Hill Individual training ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center on February 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

"Most of the ski jump events took place in the evening so to make the most of the dramatic background I went up to cover some training jumps which took place during daylight," states Getty Images photographer Lars Baron. "I wanted to get a nice frame with the ski jumper over the snowy mountains but unfortunately the floodlights that lit the course at night obscured most of the background so the window for a clean shot was very narrow. With the speed of jumpers reaching 115kph timing the picture was very difficult, The light during that time of the day was perfect and the shape of the skies and the red jumpsuit gave the picture extra impact."(@LarsBaron1975)

Team Russia huddles before their match against Switzerland during the Women's Ice Hockey Playoffs Quarterfinal game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

"I was really happy to be selected as one of the team to cover the Olympic Hockey in Sochi," explains Getty Images photographer Martin Rose. "Hockey is one of my favorite sports to shoot. It was also great to work alongside Bruce Bennett, a veteran of hockey photography with 39 years and nearly 5000 hockey games worth of experience! The venue for the hockey was the Shayba Ice Arena (‘shayba’ is Russian for hockey puck). It was a fantastic place to work, access to the photo positions was good and we had the opportunity to place a remote camera, a Canon 1Dx and 24-70mm lens, 30 meters high directly over one of the goals. Between games we could refocus the camera and change the batteries by climbing onto the catwalk above the ice… not good for someone like me with a fear of hights! This team huddle by the Russian women’s team made an interesting picture on the remote camera as it was an interesting shape, brought together by the hockey sticks all pointing inwards. I’m sure they weren’t aware of the camera 30 meters above them when they did it!"

 

Steven Jovetic of Manchester City scores the first goal past Petr Cech of Chelsea during the FA Cup Fifth Round match sponsored by Budweiser between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 15, 2014 in Manchester, England (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

"The picture taken was during the FA Cup 5th round match between Manchester City and Chelsea, two teams who have incredible wealth behind them so no shortage of really high end players. I'd been looking forward to this match all week as it was a real clash of the titans! 
I set up my 2 remote cameras behind the goal as a backup but the best frame from the match came early in the first half on my hand held camera when Steven Jovetic of Manchester City picked up a well placed pass and shot at goal. I remember thinking to myself he's hit that well and was sure it would find the net. Luck played a big part in the final frame as you see here. The ball took what seemed like forever to roll in to the goal but that meant that the keeper Petr Cech and defender had fallen nicely into the frame telling the whole story. Also the angle from the low photo pit at the Ethiad stadium is one of the best in the Premier League with the clean wall of crowd making the best possible background. It was great to see the picture made the front page of the Sunday Times Sport supplement, as its always been my favorite paper. What makes the picture for me is the look on the keeper and defenders faces both showing they are well beaten as the ball rolls in, which was the case as Chelsea eventually lost 2-0." (Clive Brunskill)

 

A biathlete trains ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

"We arrived in Sochi a few days early to shoot preview pictures. After a few days covering the news angles and scouting a few venues I was really happy to finally shoot some sport. First up was the Biathlon venue and I walked the track with fellow Getty photographers Richard and Harry looking for potential photo angles. It was a stunning venue with views over the mountains. When we came back, the men’s training session had started. I took a few frames at the shooting range, but soon saw a layer of fog drift in over the valley in front of the sunset. With this in mind I hurried up the course to find this incredible light. I waited for some of the guys coming up the little hill, with their gun on the back. After a few athletes I got this frame with the perfect shape of the body as he powers up the hill." (@LarsBaron1975)

 

Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage in London on February 12, 2014. (Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

"I was sent to cover the Fulham v Liverpool Premier League football match. Fulham have had a turbulent few months and Liverpool are on the up so I opted to sit in front of the Liverpool fans as I predicted it would be them celebrating at the end. Craven Cottage is what we call 'Old School' in that the ground is very tight and photo positions are practically on the pitch which can lead to a few hair raising moments as the players charge toward you. The match itself was surprisingly close, 2-2 until the dying moments when Liverpool won a penalty kick. Gerrard stepped up and BOOM it was 3-2. Sure enough he then ran in my direction and jumped what seemed like miles into the air. I managed to get 3 frames, the first of which is this frame with all 3 players nicely composed. The following 2 frames were extremely tight with Gerrard almost jumping down my lens!"

 

Gus Kenworthy of the United States competes in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Finals during day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

"This picture is of Gus Kenworthy of the United States as he competes in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Finals at the Olympics. I always enjoy shooting slopestyle events. The size of the jumps that the athletes go over always amazes me and the Olympic course was no different. This picture was from the first big jump at the top of the course. The sun was just starting to go behind the jump so I positioned myself to get a little bit of the sun over the jump and then hoped for the best as the skier came into the frame. This was one of my favorite shots because of the way Gus' skis are perfectly crossed and the way the sunlight is positioned in the frame." (@eoshaw)

 

Fireworks explode over Olympic Park during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

"It was the end of the Olympics and I was assigned the job of capturing the closing ceremony’s fireworks as they exploded above the costal cluster and the Fisht Stadium. It had been an incredibly warm Winter Olympics, and the venues near the coast had been easy to get around. I love shooting the Olympics, I always feel like I have accomplished something when I get back home. For me this picture was about conveying a good feeling that the games had ended and mission accomplished for Russia. Fireworks can be tricky to get right as you never really know how bright they’ll be or even exactly where they’ll explode. I set up a Canon 1Dx with a 16-35mm lens on a tripod and exposed for 1.6 seconds at f14 to give the fireworks long light trails. It was bittersweet for me because while I was glad it was composed and exposed correctly, I was hoping they would keep the flame on during the fireworks to add to the photo. But that is what closing ceremonies is about I guess. Closure." (@albello55)

 

Tiger Woods of the USA tees off on the 8th hole during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club on February 2, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

"It’s always best to get a good picture of Tiger Woods when he is wearing his famous red colours. He only wears them on a Sunday, the final day of tournaments, so I try to save the best till last! This is the iconic picture of the Emirates Golf Club, it’s changed massively over the last couple of decades and the skyscrapers on the horizon are relatively new. I wanted to get the picture with Tiger on his backswing, before he’s hit the ball. The problem with this is that if you’re close to the player the noise of the camera puts them off. Tiger is known to let his frustration out to sloppy photographers so I had to be careful. I have a camera specifically for this type of picture, a Nikon 1 V2. It’s not a camera I’d use to shoot golf normally but it has a silent shutter and I can attach my normal lenses to it to keep the image quality up and not bring Tiger’s mood down…" (@RossKinnaird)

 

Nao Kodaira of Japan competes during the Women's 1000m Speed Skating event on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Adler Arena Skating Center on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

"Speed skating is full of thrills and spills but it can become a little repetitive! I’d been assigned to cover it at the Adler Arena Skating Center and produce plenty of stock pictures of athletes for the large Japanese market. Positioning myself on the bend to get some of these pictures with a fast shutter to freeze the action with a 400mm 2.8 lens I also wanted to try some pan blur pictures to show the speed the racers were going down the long back straight. It’s a technique I’ve used a lot with F1 but it’s harder to get good results photographing humans instead of cars as the arms and legs moving around make it very tricky to get sharp! I programmed my camera to shoot at 2 different shutter speeds at the touch of a button so I could change very quickly between the two. I settled on 1600th for stock as they came round the corner and a very slow 8th of a second for the pan blurs. Panning is all about trial and error but I was really happy with this picture of Japan’s Nao Kodaira. It’s one of the sharpest pictures I’ve had at that shutter speed. Her arms and legs are positioned well to show that speed skater technique and she’s framed perfectly against a white streak in the background." (@clivejmason)

 

Henrik Harlaut of Sweden competes in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle Final during day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

"The Winter Olympics in Sochi was the first time I had encountered “Men’s Ski Slope style” as this was the first time it had been included in Winter Olympics –
The goal is to perform the most difficult tricks while getting the highest altitude off jumps, with an emphasis on performing different types of tricks instead of doing one great trick repeatedly.
I was on the course early had spotted the dreadlocked Henrick Harlaut practicing and was in total awe of the afore mention flowing locks!
I picked a particular jump where he was backlit and at the same time afforded a nice dark background provided by forest on the distant mountainside – which I blew out by using my 400mm lens.
I would have to admit the appeal of the images is probably 95% down to Henrik’s amazing hairstyle and 5% to the execution of the photo." (ianmacnicol.com)

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