Austria – C
Not expected to produce much, Austria played things safe, ending the year in 20th on the Nations Cup. Austria has been basically non-existent in cross country skiing since getting caught up in the drug scandal in the Torino Olympics, and this year was no different. Their men’s team (Thomas Ebner, Harald Wurm, Manuel Hirner) combined for a grand total of 19 WC points, and the only reason anyone remembers them is because Wurm has a sick last name. The Austrian woman (Katerina Smutna) was much better, collecting 210 WC points, mostly in sprints. Hell, she even made an A-Final. Sure, she got shelled, but Smutna pretty much single-handedly dragged Austria into mediocrity for the entire season. Smutna makes the grade a C rather than a D or a D-.
Watch out for: Katerina Smutna. I can’t see anyone else rising from obscurity to command attention, and with her sprinting as good as it was at the end of this year, she could move up easily.