Urša Bogataj is among the three Slovenian ski jumpers expected to be in the mix for the women's title at Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

The absence of reigning Olympic champion Maren Lundy and World Cup leader Marita Kramer has blown the women’s ski jumping competition wide open at the Winter Olympic here.

Norway’s Lundy, who claimed gold at Pyeongchang 2018, announced last October that she would not compete at Beijing 2022 because she wanted to protect her health.

Austria’s Marita Kramer had established herself as the favourite to clinch gold in the Chinese capital having won five of the nine World Cup stages this season.

But the 20-year-old’s hopes of a first Olympic crown were dashed when she tested positive before leaving for Beijing.

Her travel schedule had been adjusted to enable her to make it to the Games only to register another positive case.

"Our worst fears have become sad certainties," a Ski Austria statement read.

With Lundy and Kramer not in the field, Japan’s Sara Takanashi will be among the top contenders for the women’s crown.

Takanashi, a four-time winner of the World Cup title, finished fourth at Sochi 2014 before claiming bronze at Pyeongchang 2018 and will now have her eyes firmly set on capturing gold.

Japan's Four Hills Tournament champion Ryōyū Kobayashi will be aiming to claim Olympic gold in Beijing ©Getty Images
Japan's Four Hills Tournament champion Ryōyū Kobayashi will be aiming to claim Olympic gold in Beijing ©Getty Images

Germany’s Katharina Althaus will be hoping to go one better than four years ago when she achieved Olympic silver.

The Slovenian trio of Nika Križnar, Ema Klinec, Urša Bogataj are also expected to be in the mix for medals in Beijing.

Three-time Olympic champion Kamil Stoch of Poland will attempt to defend his large hill title, but his preparations have been hampered after suffering a ligament injury in training.

The 34-year-old has also slipped to 20th in the World Cup rankings and is yet to register a win this season.

Pyeongchang 2018 normal hill gold medallist Andreas Wellinger failed to secure selection for Beijing 2022 as Germany’s hopes rest on four-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Karl Geiger who leads the World Cup standings.

Ryōyū Kobayashi of Japan also arrives in fine form after winning last month’s Four Hills Tournament, while two-time Olympic bronze medallist Robert Johansson is part of a strong Norwegian team including Marius Lindvik and Halvor Egner Granerud.

A mixed team event has been added to the programme, with Norway and Germany expected to battle it out for the main prize.

The ski jumping competitions are due to run from tomorrow until February 14 in Zhangjiakou.