Italian luge legend Armin Zöggeler is among six candidates standing to become a member of the IOC Athletes' Commission ©Getty Images

Six winter sport athletes will stand for two places on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission after their candidatures were officially confirmed today.

Italian luge legend Armin Zöggeler, the double Olympic champion who had already declared his intention to stand, will go up against cross-country skiers Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen and Kikkan Randall, from Norway and the United States respectively, Spanish skeleton athlete Ander Mirambell, Finnish ice hockey player Emma Terho and Chinese speed skater Zhang Hong.

The election is due to take place during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The two elected members will replace outgoing chair Angela Ruggiero, the four-time Olympic ice hockey medallist, and Britain's skeleton athlete Adam Pengilly, the only IOC member to oppose last year's decision not to hand Russia a blanket ban from the Rio Olympics.

China's short track speed skater Yang Yang is also due to stand down, but a replacement will not be elected as she was appointed a member of the Commission back in 2010.

All three have served their respective eight-year terms.

"I am delighted with the calibre of candidates running for a place in the IOC Athletes’ Commission," Ruggiero said. 

"I have every confidence in each candidate to strongly represent athletes in the Olympic Movement and continue the excellent work of the IOC Athletes’ Commission to date. 

"I wish all of them the best of luck, and urge all Olympians competing in Pyeongchang next year to vote for the candidates they wish to represent them on the IOC.”

Following the announcement of the six candidates, members of the Athletes' Commission joined the Executive Board for a meeting to "in order to discuss the development and implementation of their future strategy".

Sochi 2014 gold medallist Zhang Hong has also been nominated ©Getty Images
Sochi 2014 gold medallist Zhang Hong has also been nominated ©Getty Images

"Key challenges" within the Olympic Movement, such as doping were discussed, Ruggiero said.

"Our mission is to represent athletes within the Olympic Movement and support them to succeed on and off the field of play,” Ruggiero, who is also the chief strategy officer for Los Angeles 2024, added. 

“Today, we discussed the key challenges of the Olympic Movement relating to athletes and highlighted the ways in which our strategy would help address these points. 

"I look forward to building on this incredible momentum and maximising the positive impact we can make on behalf of athletes and the Olympic Movement."

Zöggeler, 43, has won medals at the previous six editions of the Winter Olympics stretching back to Lillehammer 1994, including golds at Salt Lake City and Turin 2006.

China's Zhang claimed gold in the women's 1,000m event at Sochi 2014 and is a two-time World Sprint Championships medallist.

Jacobsen is a three-time World Championships gold medallist, with the most recent success for the 30-year-old coming at this year's event in Lahti in Finland.

Fellow cross-country skier Randall, 34, was a member of the American squad which won the team title at the 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme.

Terho was part of the Finland teams which clinched ice hockey bronze medals at the 1998 Games in Nagano and 12 years later in Vancouver.

Mirambell's best Olympic result came when he finished 24th in Vancouver.

Athletes' Commission chair Angela Ruggiero, left, is due to stand down when her term ends next year ©Getty Images
Athletes' Commission chair Angela Ruggiero, left, is due to stand down when her term ends next year ©Getty Images

The candidates, who originate from three continents and represent five different sports, were nominated by their respective National Olympic Committees.

It had been thought that China and the United States would both propose new members.

Britain had also been considering putting an athlete forward, but decided to wait until Tokyo 2020 before proposing a replacement for Pengilly.

Each country is only allowed one member of the IOC Athletes' Commission at any one time.

Every nation is free to propose a member except for those who have another representative already in the Commission.

These are France, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Russia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Canada's former ice hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser is the only other winter representative after being elected during Sochi 2014.

However, there does remain another vacancy after Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen resigned his position last year.

The biathlon superstar was elected alongside Wickenheiser in 2014, but proved unable to perform an active role after abandoning his sporting retirement plans. 

It is possible that those who finish third and fourth in next year's election could also be proposed to replace Yang and Bjørndalen.

The two elected Olympians will become IOC members for an eight-year term.