Mtbr Best of 2016 Awards: Rider of the Year

Nino Schurter finally has his (Olympic) golden moment

Mtbr Best of Award News

Mtbr Best of 2016 Awards

In 2016, Schurter captured his record-tying fifth world championship title, then followed it up with Olympic gold in Rio.

Schurter captured his record-tying fifth World Championship title, then followed it with Olympic gold in Rio.

Winner: Nino Schurter

Perhaps the truest sign of greatness is living up to expectation. And no rider had more expectation thrust on his shoulders in 2016 than Nino Schurter. After taking bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, then suffering a heartbreaking (but silver medal earning) finish line sprint loss at London 2012, the 30-year-old Swiss star was the overwhelming favorite to take Olympic mountain bike cross-country gold in Rio. Bike sponsor Scott built an entire promotional campaign around his quest. And when it came time to deliver, Schurter did just that, earning a commanding win that cemented him as one of the sport’s best ever.

Schurter's off-bike workout routines are the stuff of legend.

Schurter’s off-bike workout routines are the stuff of legend.

For good measure, Schurter also captured his record-tying fifth world championship title, and came second in the overall World Cup series. Along the way Schurter expanded his persona as a mountain biker’s mountain biker. Yes, he’s an endurance athlete first. But anyone who’s seen Schurter ride knows that he can slay technical trail with the best of them, making him one of the best ambassadors our sport has. Congratulations, Nino. What an amazing year.

Atherton has won an astounding 13 straight World Cup races and two straight World Championship crowns.

Atherton’s won an astounding 13 straight World Cup races, plus two straight World Championships.

Runner Up: Rachel Atherton

Were it not for the weight given to the Olympics, it’s likely Rachel Atherton would have captured the top spot in Mtbr’s end of year awards. But that should take nothing away from the British downhill racing star’s amazing 2016 season. Seven World Cups contested. Seven World Cup wins. Add in six more in 2015, and the Trek Factory team rider’s win streak stands at an astounding 13. Oh yeah, she also won her second straight World Championship title. Anne-Caroline Chausson, you have company.

Semenuk sailed to his second career Red Bull Rampage victory.

Semenuk sailed to his second career Red Bull Rampage victory.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Semenuk

Few riders possess the combination of power and grace that define Brandon Semenuk’s riding style. Whether it was his convincing (and second career) Red Bull Rampage triumph, or the litany of jaw dropping videos he starred in, the Canadian freeride star continued to smash the boundaries of what can be done on a mountain bike.

This post is part of the Mtbr Best of 2016 awards series. You can see all this year’s announced winners here.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • LiquidSpin says:

    Sorry, but I totally agree. Nino trained his butt off just like everyone else but I think he trained the right way and he accomplished a lot and bringing home a gold medal too. The guy deserves this for putting out so much.

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