The decision was announced in Zurich on Saturday night at the SwissAward gala organized by SRF, the public broadcaster.
The 26-year-old Cologna became the first man to win the Tour de Ski event three times when he won the race in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on January 8, 2012.
In the process, the native of Graubünden, the winner of an Olympic gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics, became the world’s number one in the FIS Cross-Country World Cup.
He received 31.4 percent of viewers’ votes for Swiss of the year, ahead of Jakob Kellenberger, the former head of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, with 14.6 percent.
Bastian Baker, a younger singer-songwriter from Vaud, placed third with 13.5 percent of the votes.
A total of 18 candidates were in the running for the title, won last year by Alpine ski star Didier Cuche.
Federal cabinet minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and tennis star Roger Federer are among other past winners.
Cologna was not on hand to receive the award at the Zurich event because his trainer had ordered him to rest, presenter Susanne Wille told SRF viewers.
Last Sunday the skier failed to win the Tour de Ski for a fourth time, although he finished second.
“I am very surprised,” Cologna said by telephone when informed of his election as Swiss of the year, the SDA news agency reported.
“It’s an incredible honour and a great motivation for the rest of the season.”
Adolf Ogi, former Swiss president and onetime cabinet minister (1988-2000), received a lifetime achievement award at the SwissAward ceremony.
Ogi, 70, served as a special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general on sport for development and peace from 2001 to 2007.