Emotional Conclusion to an Exceptional Year
Once again, the Credit Suisse Sports Awards gave a moving review of a very special sporting year – with the vote for the Sportspersons of the Year as highlight. The winners were Roger Federer and Wendy Holdener. One of the decisions was full of suspense, while the other was clear-cut.
The gala evening at the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) studios in Zurich was once again attended by the «Who is Who» of Swiss sport. Guests were invited to the Credit Suisse Sports Awards 2017 to celebrate and honor those who had achieved the greatest success – and there was no shortage of outstanding achievements.
The decision in the case of the men was clear-cut. After his 18th and 19th Grand Slam titles, and his amazing comeback after a six-month injury break, no one was going to upstage tennis legend Roger Federer. Not even mountain biker Nino Schurter, who has won every race over the past 12 months, and said: «For me, the whole of 2017 was a highlight.» Federer won 36.88 percent of the votes, while 25.63 percent went to Schurter. Downhill world champion Beat Feuz came third with 15.55 percent.
Roger Federer showed his delight via a live link from Dubai, from where he spoke to the athletes and the public, ensuring there was some laughter too. He said he had told his children after dinner that he had to go out because he had a chance of being voted number 1. They replied: «But Rafa is number 1.» Federer explained to them that they were right in the case of tennis, but it was different in the vote for Sportsman of the Year in Switzerland. And Federer showed how delighted he was to have won a seventh time. He spoke of it being a huge honor, and he made a link between his absence and the good news: «I'm preparing for next season and hope that it will be as successful as the one that's just finished.»
Federer's status underpins the choice of Severin Lüthi as Coach of the Year. Lüthi won just ahead of national mountain biking coach Nicolas Siegenthaler, the man behind Nino Schurter, and national football coach Vladimir Petkovic. Lüthi expressed his gratitude – to Federer too, saying that he enabled him to keep improving as a coach, to find new ways of doing things and, above all, that Federer stands for passion.
Holdener wins thanks to the Public Vote
The decision was much closer among the women: Thanks to the public vote, skier Wendy Holdener, world champion in the alpine combined event, outdid the three-time winner of the Ironman Championship in Hawaii, Daniela Ryf. For a long time, it didn't look that way: Ryf had come out on top in both the media and the athletes' vote (each contributing one-third to the final result). Holdener spoke of a «great honor and pleasure, which carries an obligation.» She thanked everyone who had helped her on her journey. Third place went to gymnast Giulia Steingruber.
Hischier honored by Streit
Particularly well-orchestrated was the fact that ice hockey legend Marc Streit presented the Newcomer of the Year award. Despite strong competition from athlete Géraldine Ruckstuhl and diver Michelle Heimberg, ice hockey player Nico Hischier was the clear winner: He gained a good 70 percent of the online votes. His father received the award on his son's behalf and said, among other things: «We have tried, and continue to try, very hard to ensure that Nico keeps his feet on the ground.»
Hug ahead of Schär
Among the disabled sportspeople, Marcel Hug continued his run of wins – although he was pushed this year by two first-class adversaries, rising marathon star Manuela Schär and skier Christoph Kunz. Hug's record in the marathon and on the track was impressive – even more so than in his successful paralympic year of 2016: three world championship gold medals and marathon wins in Boston, Seoul, Berlin, Chicago, and New York. Hug said: «I'm absolutely delighted once again.» Hug too is a serial winner, and now has six awards to his name.
Team of the Year was the Swiss national football team. It was represented by national coach Vladimir Petkovic, soccer player Valon Behrami, and chairman Peter Gilliéron. «It's amazing what we have achieved,» said Vladimir Petkovic.
Vladimir Petkovic, at the Credit Suisse Sports Awards you were presented with the team award, together with Valon Behrami and Peter Gilliéron, by Dominique Gisin. What does the award mean to you?
This award is a fantastic honor for the Swiss national team and for all those who contributed on so many levels and in so many ways to the fact that we will be playing in next year's World Cup finals in Russia. It represents important recognition for the association, for the league, and for the team behind the team, as the chairman Peter Gilliéron put it so nicely on the stage.
How important are the results of the vote for you?
They're a kind of snapshot at the end of a year, combined with a dignified awards ceremony. I think we should be grateful that Swiss sport enjoys such status.
How did you find the gala evening?
Wonderful! I was able to sit in the front row and had a bit more legroom than in previous years (grins). I also enjoy the time before the TV show, the many encounters with different athletes.
What was the highlight for you apart from the football?
Roger Federer's season, no question. I also congratulated him on his tournament wins and invited him to our international matches. Unfortunately, that hasn't been possible yet this season. His diary is incredibly full.