Innsbruck is one of the iconic venues for winter sport ©IBSF

The fifth event of the winter kicks off the second half of the BMW International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup season, on the Olympic sliding track in Igls above Innsbruck, Austria.

A 1,500 metre-long artificial track will welcome competitors, with the women's skeleton competition bubbling up nicely.

Jacqueline Lölling of Germany is on top of the standings, just seven points clear of European champion Janine Flock of Austria.

Home advantage may be key for Flock, who has finished on the podium in all four races this season.

However, defending World Cup title holder Elena Nikitina of Russia is worth watching, currently third overall and 20 points behind the leader.

Nikitina has enjoyed herself in Innsbruck previously, securing the first of her eight World Cup wins here in 2013, along with World Championship bronze in 2016, European Championship gold (2017) and silver (2019).

Jacqueline Lölling has been in strong form this season ©Getty Images
Jacqueline Lölling has been in strong form this season ©Getty Images

The men's skeleton is also promising to be a thriller, as world champion Martins Dukurs from Latvia holds a slender four-point lead at the top, despite not having won a race yet.

Breathing down his neck is Russian Alexander Tertiakov, with Axel Jungk of Germany and Korea's Sungbin Yun in hot pursuit.

However, the king of the bobsleigh is clear-cut, with German Olympic champion, world champion and defending World Cup title holder Francesco Friedrich leading both the 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh.

It would be a major surprise if he didn't deliver in Innsbruck.

Young guns are firing in the 2-woman bobsleigh, with World Cup debutants Kim Kalicki of Germany and compatriot and Youth Olympic champion Laura Nolte both managing podiums this campaign, with Nolte coming out on top in La Plagne, France.

But it's the 2010 and 2014 Olympic champion, American Kaillie Humphries, who leads the overall standings at the midway point of the season.

Skeleton competition starts tomorrow, with 2-man and 2-woman bobsleigh on Saturday (Jan 18) and 4-man bobsleigh concluding the event on Sunday (Jan 19).