Track records are expected to fall at the Arena Lodowa when athletes line-up for the third leg of the International Skating Union (ISU) Speed Skating World Cup in Tomaszów Mazowiecki in Poland this weekend.
The newly-built indoor track opened its doors last year and hosted its first international competition, an ISU Junior Speed Skating World Cup, last month.
The weekend will start with the women’s 500 metres, an event in which the field is wide open due to the absence of Olympic champion Nao Kodaira of Japan.
Kodaira has won all four 500m World Cup races so far this season, while Austria’s Vanesse Herzog has finished second on each occasion and will be aiming for her first gold medal of the campaign in the distance.
Herzog has already won a 1,000m World Cup race this season and she will have her sights on taking another one tomorrow.
Even without Kodaira, she faces tough competition in the United States' Brittany Bowe, who has already claimed a silver and a bronze medal in the 1,000m this season.
In the men's 500m, Japan's Tatsuya Shinhama and Ryohei Haga are surprisingly ranked first and third respectively in the World Cup standings, with Olympic champion Håvard Lorentzen of Norway in second place.
World record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia will be hoping to bounce back after a disappointing weekend at the outdoor World Cup in Japanese city Tomakomai, where he even decided not to start in the second 500m and the 1,000m.
Kulizhnikov had won the first 1,000m of the World Cup season in Obihiro in Japan, with The Netherlands' Kjeld Nuis coming second.
Olympic champion Nuis leads the World Cup ranking, after he clinched the gold medal in Tomakomai, but he will be absent in Tomaszów Mazowiecki as the Dutch trade team LottoNL-Jumbo chose to skip the Poland World Cup to go training in Collalbo in Italy.
Nuis' team-mate Thomas Krol, who is second in the World Cup standings, will also be absent.
Kai Verbij, who completes the current all-Dutch top three in the 1,000m ranking, will be aiming for the top spot after this weekend.
In the women’s team pursuit, Japan are looking for their 10th consecutive World Cup win.
The Olympic champions were in a league of their own at the Obihiro and Tomakomai World Cups with The Netherlands and Canada both taking a silver medal and Russia grabbing the bronze twice.
The Netherlands leads the men's team pursuit ranking but the Dutch will have to skate without world all-round champion Patrick Roest, who dragged the team to victory in Tomakomai after his colleagues had come second without him in Obihiro.
Russia won the team pursuit in Obihiro and are second in the World Cup ranking, with Norway and Japan third and fourth respectively.
The aforementioned Bowe will be looking to defend her top position in the women’s 1,500m, achieved after previously claiming a gold and a bronze medal.
She is likely to face a strong challenger from The Netherlands' Ireen Wüst, who won the second 1,500m race this World Cup season after finishing fourth in the first, and Japan’s Miho Takagi, who has taken two silver medals.
Russia’s Denis Yuskov is gearing up to win back the men’s 1,500m top spot in the absence of the Dutch top three in the World Cup ranking.
The Russian won the first 1,500m World Cup race in Obihiro, but he skipped the outdoor competition in Tomakomai and saw Nuis, Roest and Krol take control with himself dropping to 11th place.
The Netherlands’ Esmee Visser will be aiming to recover from a disappointing performance in Tomakomai in the women’s 3,000m event.
The Olympic 5,000m champion finished 12th having won the event in Obihiro the previous week.
Roest will not defend his top position in the long-distance World Cup which he has earned by winning gold and bronze in the first two 5,000m races of the season.
Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen, Russia’s Aleksandr Rumyantsev and Belgium’s Bart Swings, ranked second, third and fourth respectively, will battle to take over the lead.