Norway's Birgit Skarstein has a window of opportunity at the World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup in Altenberg and Dresden ©Getty Images

Norway’s Birgit Skarstein will be looking to capitalise on the absence of American duo Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch at the second World Para Nordic Skiing World Cup of the 2019-2020 season in Altenberg and Dresden, starting tomorrow.

Masters and Gretsch were unstoppable at the World Cup opener in Norwegian town Lillehammer last month, and occupy the top-two positions in the women's sitting cross-country rankings with point totals of 300 and 240, respectively.  

Skarstein is in third place with 165 points, but with three upcoming races in Germany, it is possible for her to soar to the top of the rankings by the end of the week.

In biathlon, where Gretsch is the leader with 200 points and Masters is in second spot on 160, it is Russia's Marta Zainullina who could benefit the most from her rivals' absence.

The Paralympic medallist is only 80 points behind Gretsch and can flip their standings with a single solid race.

The field is also looking a lot more open in the women's visually impaired class, with the cross-country and biathlon leader Anna Panferova expected to sit out the competition in Germany.

The Russian skier's nearest rival is her equally versatile team mate Vera Khlyzova, who is sure to use the competition to try and surpass Panferova in the rankings.

German athletes could also fare well, with Vivian Hoesch and Clara Klug making a bid for top places in women's visually impaired biathlon, while Anja Wicker will try to do the host nation proud in the women's sitting events.

The United States' Oksana Masters is missing out on the event in Altenberg and Dresden ©Getty Images
The United States' Oksana Masters is missing out on the event in Altenberg and Dresden ©Getty Images

Unlike the women's sitting and visually impaired classes, the races in the men's sitting and visually impaired will see the return of the toughest rivalries from Lillehammer.

Canada's Brian McKeever and Sweden's Zebastian Modin will be fighting for the top spot in men's visually impaired cross-country again, while Belarus' Yury Holub will try to retain his top rank in men's visually impaired biathlon.

In the men’s sitting, the nearly flawless Ivan Golubkov of Russia is aiming to stretch his 104-point lead even further, as he takes on three more cross-country races, while Ukraine's Taras Rad will be pushing to close the gap.

Rad, meanwhile, will be trying to jump up from his current third place in the biathlon rankings. 

He was the crystal globe winner in biathlon last season, but fell in the shadows of Golubkov and Germany's Martin Fleig in Lillehammer.

Action in Altenberg and Dresden is due to run through to January 19, and consists of three cross-country and three biathlon races.

Competition starts with the cross-country sprint qualifications tomorrow, while the biathlon events begin on January 16.

It will be the first joint World Cup event between the International Ski Federation (FIS) and World Para Nordic Skiing, with an FIS cross-country stage being held in Dresden over the weekend.