The International Ski Federation (FIS) Nordic Combined World Cup season is set to continue in Lillehammer over the coming four days with the Norwegian town playing host to the first mass start event at that level in almost 10 years.
The last World Cup mass start took place in Val di Fiemme in Italy in January 2009 and with Germany’s Björn Kircheisen, Austria’s Bernhard Gruber and Norway’s Jan Schmid, all three podium athletes from back then will still be on location this weekend.
Only Schmid and Gruber have the chance to register a repeat performance, while Kircheisen is now helping coach Germany’s B team having retired at the end of last season.
On Saturday (December 1) morning, all entered athletes will meet at the Birkebeineren Ski Stadium’s start line in a bid to set the fastest 10 kilometres cross-country time.
Only the quickest 50 will be permitted to start in the afternoon’s one round of ski jumping that will determine the winner of the day.
An individual Gundersen 5km event is scheduled for Friday (November 30), while a HS140/10km competition is due to be held on Sunday (December 2).
The athlete with the highest amount of points from the three events will be the winner of what is the first "mini tour" of the season.
Lillehammer is also braced to stage the first women’s FIS Ski Jumping World Cup event of the season from Friday to Sunday.
Preparation for the three days of competition has been going on since last week with both the normal and large hills now ready.
The normal hill will be used on Friday and Saturday, while the large hill will be made use of on Sunday.
Among the favourites for success is home athlete Maren Lundby, the overall World Cup winner from last season.
In 2017, Lundby placed first and second on the normal hill, and second on the large hill.
She is likely to face a strong challenge from Germany’s Katharina Althaus, the runner-up in the 2017-2018 overall World Cup standings.
Last year, Althaus placed first and second on the normal hill, and first on the large hill.