China's Eileen Gu, centre, won the best female athlete at Beijing 2022 ANOC award ©ANOC

Chinese sensation Eileen Gu scooped the best female athlete at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics prize at the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Awards here, while South Korean short track speed skater Hwang Dae-heon earned the men's equivalent award.

There was further success for Games hosts China in the form of the outstanding National Olympic Committee (NOC) award, while Canada in ice hockey and Sweden in curling took the best women's and men's team titles respectively.

American pair Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner earned the best mixed team award, and there was recognition for retired Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer in the outstanding athlete performance category.

Then aged 18, Gu became the first freestyle skier at the Olympic Games to win three medals with golds in the halfpipe and big air, and silver in the slopestyle.

Born and raised in the United States, Gu switched her nationality to China in 2019, and her switch became a major talking point at Beijing 2022, particularly given the US President Joe Biden administration's boycott of the Games due to human rights concerns.

"The Olympics to me have always celebrated everything that sport should be," Gu said after winning the award.

"They celebrate excellence, while also emphasising sportsmanship and respect."

Short track speed skater Hwang provided a home winner at the Awards ceremony held in Seoul, staving off strong competition to claim the best male athlete award thanks to a gold in the 1500m and silver in the 5,000m relay in Beijing.

The male award had proved contentious following comments from Russia's cross-country skiing head coach Yuri Borodavko in the build-up, as he claimed that "politics" would hamper Alexander Bolshunov's hopes of receiving the award for his treble-gold medal haul.

Biathlete Johannes Thingnes Bø of Norway and Quentin Fillon Maillet of France were also viewed as strong contenders with five medals won in Beijing each.

South Korea's Hwang Dae-heon staved off stiff competition to win the best male athlete at Beijing 2022 award ©ANOC
South Korea's Hwang Dae-heon staved off stiff competition to win the best male athlete at Beijing 2022 award ©ANOC

Canada's women's ice hockey team were the first winners of the evening after they reclaimed the Olympic title by beating arch rivals and defending champions the United States 3-2 in the final.

Goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens accepted the award on the team's behalf.

Daniel Wilhelm Magnusson received the best men's team award for Sweden, who claimed an extra-end victory in the final against Britain.

Baumgartner was presented with the mixed team award for him and Jacobellis, who won the inaugural mixed snowboard cross title at the ages of 40 and 36 respectively,

"The prime age for my sport to be successful is 28 and 32," Baumgartner told insidethegames.

"I was 28 at my first Olympics, 32 at my second Olympics, and those were my worst results that I had.

"Thankfully I didn’t quit and kept going, and to get fourth in Pyeongchang and almost get to taste that medal but just fall a little bit short kept me going, and I went to Beijing and was able to come home with a medal.

"To be able to do that was a childhood dream, and to fight through all that failure and all those setbacks along the way made it so much sweeter."

Nick Baumgartner of the US collected the best mixed team award after triumphing in the mixed team snowboard cross with Lindsey Jacobellis ©ANOC
Nick Baumgartner of the US collected the best mixed team award after triumphing in the mixed team snowboard cross with Lindsey Jacobellis ©ANOC

He also feels that the mixed team snowboard cross event added value to the Winter Olympic programme.

"We've been trying to get a team event in our sport for quite some time since 2010, but once we were able to pair it with a man and a woman, it got a lot more traction and we were able to get it into the Games.

"Then to not only go out and do that race for the first time, but then to win it, and to win it with Lindsey Jacobellis who is the GOAT of snowboard cross, the most decorated snowboard cross athlete of all time and everyone knows her story from 2006 when she made a little mistake and lost the race.

"The media has beat her up over the years so it makes it even sweeter to be a part of that to show everyone she is the best.

"She won her individual race, and then we got to do it again and put that extra stamp on it together.

"Very emotional."

The Chinese Olympic Committee earned the outstanding NOC of Beijing 2022 award.

China earned its best ever performance at the Winter Olympics, placing third on the medals table with nine golds.

Kramer retired after Beijing 2022, having won four Olympic golds across Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018.

The ANOC Jury, consisting of secretary general Gunilla Lindberg, Athletes' Commission chair Karo Priscilla Lelai, Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations President Ivo Ferriani and representatives from each of the Continental Associations, selected the winners.