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Skier blames pro-German bias for award loss

Sponsors' favourite Lara Gut missed out on being named female athlete of the year, voted for by mostly German-speaking television viewers Keystone

Sour grapes or discrimination? Having just missed out on being named Female Sportsperson of the Year, skier Lara Gut took to Twitter, saying she was “too Ticinese” to win, just as Stanislas Wawrinka was “too Swiss-French”.

This content was published on December 16, 2013 - 16:14
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Gut, currently leading the overall World Cup standings having won four races so far this season, picked up 27.19% of viewers’ votes on Sunday night at the Credit Suisse Sports Awards 2013.

This was just behind orienteerer Simone Niggli (27.87%) and gymnast Giulia Steingruber (28.28%), both from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Steingruber won gold in the vault exercise at the 2013 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Moscow.

In the men’s category, tennis player Wawrinka, despite having had the year of his life in which he pushed Novak Djokovic to five sets twice including at the semi-final of the US Open and reaching the semis of the World Tour Finals, lost out to cross-country skier Dario Cologna.

Wawrinka was born in French-speaking Lausanne; Cologna, who won the 30km pursuit at the 2013 World Championships, comes from canton Graubünden.

While Wawrinka replied to her tweet with a smiley face emoticon, Cologna countered with a terse “I am Romansh”.

The Credit Suisse Sports Awards was held in Zurich and both presenters were German-speakers. The ceremony is dubbed for television in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country.

Numbers game

The statistics appear to support Gut, who unlike Wawrinka can speak Swiss-German. Not that she should feel too down – the photogenic 22-year-old remains a favourite with advertisers.

The most recent non-German-speaking female athlete to win the Sports Award, back in 1993, was Bulgarian-born tennis player Manuela Maleeva-Fragnière, who started playing for Switzerland when she was 23. She now lives near Lausanne.

The only man from French- or Italian-speaking Switzerland to win in the past 20 years has been skier Didier Cuche from Neuchâtel. Cuche, who always gave interviews in fluent Swiss-German, won in 2011.

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