Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is expected to add to his three Olympic titles from Pyeongchang ©Getty Images

Three-time Olympic champion Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is the headlining name on Norway's cross-country team, with the most-successful Winter Olympic nation expected to dominate the sport at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. 

Klæbo - who holds the World Cup race wins record with 47 - won three gold medals on his debut at Pyeongchang 2018 in the sprint, team sprint and 4x10-kilometre relay and has been dominant in the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country World Cup so far this season.

He holds a lead of more than three race wins over his closest challenger, Alexander Bolshunov of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), who will not be a threat in the sprint to the Norwegian, but will be in distance races, in which he leads the World Cup standings.

Bolshunov's team mates Alexander Terentyev - a sprinter - and distance skiers Aleksey Chervotkin and Ivan Yakimushkin are expected to be important for the ROC for their medal hopes.

Alexander Bolshunov is expected to be the man to beat in the distance events ©Getty Images
Alexander Bolshunov is expected to be the man to beat in the distance events ©Getty Images

This team will likely feature in the relay too, with a chance of threatening a strong Norwegian side which also comprises of Pål Golberg and Erik Valnes, as well as Håvard Solås Taugbøl, Even Northug and three-time world champion Sjur Røthe.

A blow will be the absence of two-time Olympic champion Simen Hegstad Krüger - the defending Olympic skiathlon champion and individual silver medallist - who contracted COVID-19 prior to the Games.

Switzerland's Dario Cologna is the defending Olympic champion in the freestyle and Iivo Niskanen from Finland will hope to replicate his Pyeongchang victory in the mass start.

Cologna, who is 35 years of age, has been off the pace this season, as has Emil Iversen, who won two gold medals at the 2021 World Championships.

The first gold medal of the Games is set to be awarded in the women's 15km skiathlon, with Charlotte Kalla set to defend her title.

Kalla is a nine-time Olympic medallist and three-time champion, making her Sweden's most-decorated female Olympian.

Her preparations have been hampered after complications caused from contracting COVID-19, so the gold medal could go elsewhere - perhaps to her natural predecessor Frida Karlsson who is the distance leader in the women's World Cup standings.

Compatriot Ebba Andersson is likely to feature too, having had a breakthrough year.

Therese Johaug is a three-time Olympic medallist with 79 World Cup race wins to her name ©Getty Images
Therese Johaug is a three-time Olympic medallist with 79 World Cup race wins to her name ©Getty Images

Veteran Therese Johaug of Norway - who is the second-most successful women's World Cup racer with 79 victories - will also be a contender in distance races, but her team mate Heidi Weng is still an uncertainty, having recently recovered from COVID-19.

With different testing methods in other nations, Weng is concerned of testing positive on arrival in Beijing, according to Norwegian publication Verdens Gang, and is still to decide whether to travel to the Games.

Natalya Nepryayeva of the ROC is the overall World Cup leader this season with wins in the mass start and sprint and could be a medal threat in both distance and sprint.

Maja Dahlqvist is the top sprinter on the circuit and will be backed well by Swedish team mate Johanna Hagström.

Slovenian Anamarija Lampič and American Jessie Diggins are top stars in sprints too, while Norway's hopes will likely lie with Mathilde Myhrvold and Tiril Udnes Weng.

The Norwegian women's team is going through a transition period with greatest women's cross-country skier in history Marit Bjørgen retiring and Pyeongchang 2018 individual winner Ragnhild Haga having a quiet season.

Sweden's Stina Nilsson will not defend her sprint title either after switching to biathlon.

Cross-country is scheduled to take place at the Kuyangshu Nordic Center and Biathlon Center from tomorrow until February 20.