Norway, the cradle of cross country skiing, has its say as it tops the winter Olympic medal tally with 30 gold medals and 83 medals overall ever since the very first edition in 1924.
Norway stayed atop the medal table of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics with four gold medals, three silvers and four bronzes.
Cross country skiing was spread from Norway to Russia, where it enjoys a high popularity. Russia, with three golds, four silvers and one bronze in Salt Lake City, will contend for the top place against Norway.
Italy captured two golds, two silvers and one bronze in the last Winter Olympics, and one gold and two silvers in the 2005 World championships. It may stage some threats to both Norway and Russia.
The other countries to watch at are those which collected medals in 2002: Germany, Sweden and Estonia.
Germany's Tobias Angerer is the top finisher at the 2005-2006 World Cup standing with 685 points. During the season, he won five World Cup champions separately from the men's pursuit, up to 15 kms and 30 kms, which showed his overall strength.
Tor Arne Hetland of Norway, runner-up in the overall World Cup standing with 455 points, would strike for his Olympic title in sprint, and defending Olympic champion in the men's pursuit Norwegian Frode Estil is seeming over the hill as he only garnered one title in the event during the past season and his World cup standings dropped to 12th place.
For the women skiiers, 33-year-old Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic, the silver medallist in the women's up to 15 kilometers in Salt Lake City and champion in up to 10 kilometers in the 2005 World Championships, had eye-catching performances in recent World Cups. She is a favorite to win both the events in Turin.
Germany's Evi Sachenbacher, the runner-up of the women's pursuit in the 2002 Winter Olympics, had a barely good performance in the last season and may not maintain her record in the Winter Olympics in Turin. Julija Tchepalova of Russia, the 2005 world champion, may crown in the event.
The cross country skiing competition in the Turin Olympics is slated from February 12-26 at the Pragelato venue. It constitutes six different events in both the men's and women's programs -- sprint, team sprint, individual start, pursuit, mass start and relay.