Credit Suisse Sports Awards 2016: Victory for Gut and Cancellara
In the end it was a clear victory for World Cup ski racer Lara Gut and Olympic gold medal-winning cycling time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, who were voted Swiss female and male athletes of 2016 at the Credit Suisse Sports Awards held in the Zurich television studios.
In a live link from Courchevel, France, last winter's World Cup ski champion Lara Gut said she was delighted to score her first win in the Credit Suisse Sports Awards. Speaking to the audience in both Italian and German, the affable 25-year-old from Ticino proved that being unable to attend in person wasn't an obstacle for her. In fact, she had raced successfully that same day and was already gearing up for her next race on Tuesday.
"I'm proud to be the first Alpine ski racer to receive this award since Vreni Schneider," said Gut. That had been 21 years ago. Gut was this year's clear winner with 34.56 percent of the votes, ahead of European artistic gymnast champion and Olympic bronze medalist Giulia Steingruber. Steingruber, who hails from eastern Switzerland, picked up 24.02 percent to push Olympic silver medal triathlon champion Nicola Spirig into third place. The interesting thing about the outcome was that Gut was the undisputed no. 1 among the media and significantly ahead in terms of the public vote – though not among athletes, who gave Steingruber the edge. Last year's winner and Hawaii title defender Daniela Ryf ended in fourth place, with Olympic bronze medalist pistol shooter Heidi Diethelm Gerber in fifth, and mountain biker Jolanda Neff in sixth.
Cancellara Beats Schurter – Public Vote Tipped the Balance
The men's side saw a climax in the duel between two Rio de Janeiro Olympic champions: gold medalist mountain biker Nino Schurter and time trial title winner Fabian Cancellara outshone the competition, although the vote was closer than in the case of the female athletes. Cancellara picked up 30.46 percent of the votes, versus 25.01 percent for Schurter. "It's a great honor at the end of 16-year career," said a proud, overjoyed winner. The studio audience showed their respect by giving him a standing ovation. What's more the relief was clear for the Bern-based athlete, who described the tension as follows: "Unlike a cycle race, a decision like this is difficult because you can't do anything to influence it yourself."
Cancellara was pleased with a second win to follow his first in 2008, stressing: "There's no question Nino and the others would have earned it too." Schurter had missed out on "the icing on the cake after a superb season." US Open champion and last year's winner Stan Wawrinka came in third place. Interestingly, a breakdown of the voting percentages showed that Cancellara came in just ahead of Wawrinka in the media vote and clearly ahead of Schurter; among athletes the winner was Schurter, who was significantly in front of Cancellara and Wawrinka. It was consequently the public vote that tipped the balance in favor of Cancellara. Here the sequence was as follows: Cancellara came in well ahead of wrestling champion Matthias Glarner (4th) and Schurter. Fifth place went to handball player Andy Schmid, and sixth to Roger Federer.
Fifth Time for Hug
It was almost inevitable that the Thurgau-based wheelchair athlete Marcel Hug would be voted Disabled Athlete of the Year for a fifth time, having already picked up the award in 2011, 2013, 2014, as well as last year. Not only did the 30-year-old pick up the Paralympic gold medal still missing from his trophy cabinet, but did it twice – once in the 800 meters and once in the marathon. Hug also dazzled in the major international marathons, winning one after another. "It's fair to say that this season topped all previous ones," said a delighted Hug.
The Team of the Year category was won by the lightweight men's four in rowing for the second time in succession, this time after achieving their big goal of becoming Olympic champions. Wrestler Armand Orlik was voted Newcomer of the Year, while gymnastics coach Zoltan Jordanov won the Coach of the Year title. In addition to the excitement surrounding the awards ceremony, the gala evening included performances from pop queen Helene Fischer, the band 77 Bombay Street, Gustav, and Trauffer. The show was once again moderated by Rainer Maria Salzgeber and Steffi Buchli.