FIS Cross-Country World Cup: Ladies preview
Weng aiming for back-to-back success, Bjørgen ready for record fifth crystal globe
Heidi Weng (NOR) won her first overall World Cup title last season after third-place finishes in both 2014/15 and 2015/16. If she succeeds again she could become the third athlete from Norway to claim the overall crystal globe in back-to-back seasons after Marit Bjørgen (NOR, 2004/05-2005/06) and Bente Skari (NOR, 2001/02-2002/03 and 1998/99-1999/2000).
Last season was really successful for Heidi. Weng. She grabbed seven wins and equaled her number of victories in her previous seven World Cup seasons combined. She reached the podium in 12 of last season's opening 13 World Cup events (including Tour stages and overall Tour), only missing out on a top-three finish in the sprint event in Davos on 11 December 2016 (35th).
Four-time overall World Cup winner Marit Bjørgen is aiming to become the second woman with five overall crystal globes after Elena Välbe (RUS/USR).
Bjørgen returned in competition last season after giving birth to her son and finished in fifth place in the overall World Cup.
No other athlete other than Bjørgen has claimed more World Cup top-three finishes (212) and more World Cup victories (140) than Bjørgen.
Can Pärmäkoski break Norwegian dominance?
Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) finished in second place in the overall World Cup last season to become the first non-Norwegian to claim a top-three finish since 2012/13, when Justyna Kowalczyk won and Kikkan Randall (USA) finished third.
Pärmäkoski could become the fourth overall crystal globe winner from Finland and the first since Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) in 2007/08. Kuitunen is also the last athlete from Finland to reach the overall World Cup podium in back-to-back seasons, as she was also crowned overall champion in 2006/07.
Krista Pärmäkoski won one World Cup event last season, the 10km pursuit in the Three-Days Tour in Lillehammer on 4 December 2016.
Pärmäkoski, who also won one World Cup event in 2015/16, could become the first athlete from Finland to claim at least one World Cup victory in three consecutive seasons since Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10.
Falla for the third consecutive sprint title?
Maiken Caspersen Falla has won the last two sprint World Cup titles and is aiming to become the fourth athlete with three consecutive sprint crystal globes after Kikkan Randall (USA), marit Bjørgen and Bente Skari.
Maiken Caspersen Falla and Charlotte Kalla are the only athletes to have reached the podium in an individual World Cup event in each of the last seven seasons.
Falla's first individual World Cup podium came on 20 December 2008, when she finished in third place in the sprint event in Düsseldorf.
Stina Nilsson (SWE) finished in fourth place in the overall World Cup last season. Nilsson is hoping to become the second athlete from Sweden to reach the overall World Cup podium after Marie-Helene Östlund in 1987/88 (2nd).
Nilsson, last season's runner-up in the sprint World Cup, grabbed nine World Cup victories last season. Only Bjørgen (10) collected more (including relay/team events). Nilsson's nine World Cup wins in 2016/17 was a new record for a Swedish athlete. Charlotte Kalla took five wins in 2007/08.