The Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., proved both historic and emotional. Snowboarding's biggest stars shined in the marquee superpipe event as Shaun White (left) and Kelly Clark (right) took home gold. Clark became the first woman to land a frontside 1080. But the most poignant moments belonged to Kevin Pearce, who was on hand and even doing some TV work a little more than a year after he nearly died in a training accident that left him with severe head trauma. Pearce took his first trip down a mountain on a snowboard in 712 days on Dec. 13.
2 of 15Giovanni Auletta/Alessandro Trovati/AP
Alpine Skiing World Cup
Croatian Ivica Kostelic (top left) ran away with his first overall title, joining retired sister Janica, who won three in her career. The women's overall championship came down to the final weekend between rivals Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch. Riesch took a slim three-point lead into the last race and won by that margin when the finale was canceled due to poor conditions. Vonn's three-year reign as the world's best skier ended, but she still scooped up season titles in the downhill, super-G and combined.
3 of 15Jack Dempsey/AP/Barbara Gindl/EPA
Women's Ski Jumping Added
Several new sports made the Winter Olympic program for 2014, including ski halfpipe, ski and snowboard slopestyle and a team figure skating event. But the most newsworthy newcomer had to be women's ski jumping. The sport's biggest proponents had been fighting for years to join their male counterparts in the Olympics, including taking a lawsuit all the way to Canada's Supreme Court before the 2010 Vancouver Games.
4 of 15Yuri Kochetkov/EPA/Landov/Yutaka/Zuma Press/Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
World Figure Skating Championships
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami forced the event to be moved from Tokyo to Moscow and from March to April. In ice dancing, Meryl Davis and Charlie White (top left) became the first U.S. duo to win a world title. Patrick Chan (top right) set record scores in the short and long programs to win his first world championship. Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (bottom right) won their third gold in pairs. The surprising result came on the ladies' side, as 2007 world champion Miki Ando (bottom left) topped a field that included 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim (second) and 2010 world champion Mao Asada (sixth).
5 of 15Chai v.d. Laage/Icon SMI
Sammy Wanjiru Dies
What could have been the greatest marathon career was cut short by a disputed sequence of events. Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion, fell off a balcony at his Kenyan home. It is unclear whether his death was a suicide or a homicide, or if it was by accident. Revelations about his life -- a drinking problem, a mistress -- have come out since. Wanjiru, who died at age 24, had racked up marathon wins in London and Chicago in addition to breaking the Olympic record in Beijing.
6 of 15Xinhua/Icon SMI
NBC Keeps Olympic TV Rights
When Dick Ebersol left Comcast/NBC in May, it looked like the company would not retain the Olympic TV rights. Losing the boss days before the bidding was not a good sign, and ESPN was thought to be opening up its wallet. But NBC brought out the big guns in its presentation to the IOC, even flying Bob Costas in to Switzerland. The Peacock, which has broadcast every Games since 2000, extended its run as the Olympic network with a $4.38 billion bid through the 2020 Olympics.
7 of 15Andrea Staccioli/EPA/Landov/Imago/Zuma Press
World Beach Volleyball Championships
Both Olympic champions fell short in the last major championship before the 2012 Olympics. In their first year back together since the Beijing Games, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (right) were beaten in the gold-medal match by the new world No. 1, Brazil's Larissa and Juliana (left). Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers didn't make it nearly as far, bowing out in the round of 16, allowing Brazilians Alison and Emanuel to win their first world title together.
8 of 15Kim Ludbrook/EPA/Landov
The XXIII Olympic Winter Games came down to three finalists: Annecy, France, Munich, Germany, and Pyeongchang, South Korea. It was Pyeongchang in a rout, as the Taebaek Mountains county received 63 of 95 votes. It'll be the second time South Korea hosts the Olympics, and the first time in the winter. The 1988 Summer Games were in Seoul.
9 of 15Vincent Curutchet/Icon SMI/Lionel Bonaventure/EPA/Landov/Reuters
Tour de France
Cadel Evans (left) won the 98th Tour de France, becoming the oldest winner since World War II (34) and the first Australian winner. The Tour was also defined by two-time champion Alberto Contador (top right), who received the ire of fans due to his ongoing doping controversy. Andy Schleck (middle right) was the heartbreaking runner-up for the third straight year. The bravest performance may have come from Johnny Hoogerland (bottom right), who required 33 stitches for a barbed-wire crash on Stage 9.
10 of 15Al Tielemans/SI/Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA
Jeret 'Speedy' Peterson Dies
Peterson was known for his ultimate highs -- non higher than his Olympic silver-medal-winning performance in 2010 -- and his even more frequent ultimate lows. The three-time Olympic aerials skier was found dead in a remote canyon in Utah in what police called a suicide. Peterson, whose signature trick, "The Hurricane," symbolized an often over-the-edge lifestyle, called 911 before shooting himself, police said. He had been cited for drunken driving in his native Idaho and had pleaded not guilty the previous week.
11 of 15Cal Sport Media/Daiju Kitamura/Zuma Press/Hannibal Hanschke/Kim Ludbrook/EPA/Landov/Michael Sohn/AP
World Aquatics Championships
The pool's biggest star in Shanghai, China, was Ryan Lochte (center), who won a meet-leading five gold medals and broke the first world record in the post-high-tech suit era. Michael Phelps (top left) won four golds of his own, but this time in a supporting role. Breastroker Rebecca Soni (bottom left) and teen phenom Missy Franklin (bottom right) led all women with three golds each. David Boudia (top right) won the first platform diving medal by a U.S. man since Greg Louganis.
12 of 15Reuters/Zuma Press/Icon SMI/EPA/AP/U.S. Presswire
World Track and Field Championships
Usain Bolt made headlines in his sport's biggest event outside of the Olympics. He false-started out of the 100 meters (top left) but came back to win the 200 and, on the final day, break the only world record of the meet as part of Jamaica's 4x100 relay. Fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (top center) won the 100 in Bolt's absence, setting up a potential Olympic duel. Worlds also saw double amputee Oscar Pistorius (bottom left) win a silver medal in the 4x400 relay, Carmelita Jeter (top right) win the 100 and Allyson Felix (bottom right) settle for silver in the 400 and bronze in the 200.
13 of 15Tobias Schwarz/Reuters
Defending champion Patrick Makau shattered the marathon world record, leading a Kenyan sweep in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds and beating the old mark by 21 seconds. For 26.2 miles, Makau averaged 4:42 per mile. Makau's time has many thinking a sub-two-hour marathon is on the horizon.
14 of 15Bullit Marquez/AP/Chen Xiaowei/Zuma Press
World Gymnastics Championships
The U.S. women lost Alicia Sacramone to a torn Achilles tendon in training, leaving them with a roster of five while every other nation had six. It didn't matter, as the young team cruised to the gold medal in Tokyo. Its star, Jordyn Wieber (top left), won all-around gold. Japanese favorite Kohei Uchimura (bottom right) became the first man to win three straight all-around titles. The American men impressed by taking bronze, nearly snatching silver from the Japanese.
15 of 15Claudio Cruz/Zuma Press
Pan American Games
For the 15th straight time, the United States led the medal tally at the Pan Am Games, which are essentially the Olympics of the Americas. Americans won 237 medals and 92 gold in Guadalajara, Mexico, leaving Brazil (141 medals) and Cuba (58 gold) in distant second. The most recognizable athlete at the Games was gymnast Shawn Johnson, who won team gold and uneven bars silver in the first international competition of her comeback.
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