Competition will be particularly tight for Team USA female Olympic athlete of the year with Williams, only the second woman to win four straight Grand Slam titles twice, going up against gymnastics dynamo Biles, who earlier this month claimed her third consecutive world all-around title in 2015.
Also in the running is Katie Ledecky, the first swimmer to win the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500-metre freestyle events at the world championships.
Other contenders include triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, who won her second consecutive world title in 2015 to become the first triathlete ever – man or woman – to complete an undefeated season with 12 straight World Triathlon Series wins, and wrestler Adeline Gray, who won her third world title at 75 kg.
Ligety became the second-most decorated U.S. skier in world championships by winning his third successive giant slalom world title on home snow in Beaver Creek in February and will be up against decathlete Ashton Eaton, who scored a world record 9,045 points in claiming gold at the 2015 world championships.
Other finalists include wrestler Jordan Burroughs, who went undefeated to claim his third world title in the men’s freestyle 74 kg. division in 2015, and skeet shooter Vincent Hancock, the third man to win three world championship titles and first to post a perfect world-record score of 157.
The awards winners will be announced on Dec. 10 during ceremonies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.