Alexander Bolshunov will be one of the favourites in the men's competition with the absence of Norway and Sweden ©Getty Images

Some fresh faces could make the podium at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country World Cup event in Davos this weekend after the recent withdrawals of skiers from Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Athletes from these countries, three of the best cross-country skiing nations in the world, are set to miss all December fixtures from the World Cup calendar due to fears surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This means they will also miss the two-day event in Dresden in Germany too, with this weekend's event taking place in Switzerland on Saturday and Sunday.

Overall leaders Therese Johaug and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo, both from Norway, will be missing as will their sprint compatriot Erik Valnes and Sweden's Linn Svahn.

All four of the skiers, and Norway's Hans Christer Holund, have won all the World Cup races so far this season.

On the men's side, Russia will consider themselves among the favourites, particularly overall defending champion Alexander Bolshunov, who has yet to get a win this season.

Team-mates Aleksey Chervotkin and Andrey Melnichenko have also made the podium so far this year.

Britons Andrew Young and Andrew Musgrave could feature well too, as could Germans Florian Notz and Lucas Boegl.

Sweden's Linn Svahn will be one of many cross-country stars missing from the World Cup event in Davos ©Getty Images
Sweden's Linn Svahn will be one of many cross-country stars missing from the World Cup event in Davos ©Getty Images

Only two skiers not from Norway or Sweden have made the World Cup podium in women's events. 

Russia's Tatiana Sorina was second in the Nordic opening overall standings from the triple-header in Ruka in Finland, but only the US' Rosie Brennan's bronze in the 10 kilometres pursuit came in an individual race.

Slovenia's Anamarija Lampič and Russia's Natalia Nepryaeva will start as the two favourites in the women's sprint with plenty of experience on the podium between them.

Both skiers as well as Sorina and Brennan also sit among the favourites for the distance title in Davos.

Both sprint events are scheduled for Saturday, while the men's 15km and women's 10km individual are scheduled for Sunday.