Brittany Bowe of the United States and Russia's Pavel Kulizhnikov are set to be dethroned at the upcoming International Skating Union (ISU) World Sprint Speed Skating Championships as both athletes will not compete in Calgary due to injury.
The competition, where skaters will compete over 500 metres and 1,000 metres before an overall women's and men's champion will be crowned, begins at the Calgary Olympic Oval tomorrow.
Bowe, winner of the women's gold medal at last year's Championships in Seoul, has not sufficiently recovered from a concussion she suffered before the start of the World Cup season.
Her compatriot Heather Bergsma is among the favourites to take her title, along with Nao Kodaira of Japan.
Bergsma finished second behind her team-mate last year in 2015 and recently won both the 1,000m and the 1,500m events at the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Gangneung in South Korea.
Kulizhnikov, winner of five World Championships titles in total and who has previously served a two-year doping ban between 2012 and 2014, is also absent from the event in Calgary.
It leaves the door open for what is expected to be a closely-fought men's competition.
Dutchman Kjeld Nuis, who was second behind the Russian last year, will be hoping to take full advantage and comes into the event in fine form having claimed 1,000m and 1,500m gold at the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships.
Kai Verbij, also of The Netherlands, is another athlete who is likely to challenge for top spot after he earned bronze at the corresponding competition in 2016.
The Championships in Calgary, which is considering a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, conclude on Sunday (February 26).
Organisers claim it will be held on the "fastest ice in the world".