American Brenna Huckaby will be among the star names on show at the World Para Snowboard Championships in Pyha ©Getty Images

The World Para Snowboard Championships are due to get underway in Pyha in Finland tomorrow boasting a new snowboard cross format and the return of France's world champion Maxime Montaggioni among the highlights.

In a new development the men’s SB-UL snowboard cross event will feature four-man, not two-man heats for the first time, which according to Austrian medal hopeful Patrick Mayrhofer, is proof of how much the sport has grown.

"Riding four-way is the way we have to go," the 2015 banked slalom world champion said.

"If you just go one by one, it’s not thrilling action because we are already used to this and the four-way format is something that is much more interesting for the spectators."

Meanwhile, 2017 banked slalom champion Montaggioni will make his return to the Championships, after suffering a serious injury in training for last year's Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, forcing him off the snow for a year.

He has since made a successful return to the World Cup circuit, however, and so is already considered a medal hopeful in Pyha.

"He is maybe number one in line for a medal," Mayrhofer said.

"He took some time off, didn’t go early on snow and he’s stronger than before.

"He can ride.

"He has no pressure."

Montaggioni has been named on World Para Snowboard’s list of "ones to watch", which also features Brenna Huckaby from the United States and Chris Vos from The Netherlands among others.

Huckaby, one of the sports most high profile athletes, is the reigning Paralympic and world champion in both snowboard cross and banked slalom and will be the favourite once again in the SB-LL1 division.

Vos, meanwhile, already has four World Championship gold medals and several World Cup crystal globes to his name at the age of 21.

He will be the favourite in the men’s SB-LL1 division.

Action is due to take place in the Finnish resort from tomorrow until Saturday (March 30), starting with banked slalom racing.