the rims on my cross bike are worn from braking, and stopping isn't very good. I've wiped off any grease with simple green, and sanded the pads, with little improvement. I'm rebuilding with rear with a CR18 (the same as whats on their now). for the more critical front, what rims have the most durable braking surface? I'm halfway considering a drum brake hub, as weight is no object. Cost is an object however, so I'm unlikely to go this route. Plus, the front hub that I have now is fine.
You said you sanded the pads.. That may not be enough, maybe a pad replacement would help. Also for braking surfaces.. MAVIC uses a "SUP" technology which is really just scoring the braking surface with a machine. it helps grip the brake pads a lot more.
If you're worried about rim durability then perhaps try using hard anodized rims like the old mavic open4CD's they were among a few others the only hard anodized rims.
Mavic uses really good alloy and has the *SUP* braking surface on their higher end rims, so I think these are the best overall.
But on a 'cross bike? You can't beat the Sun CR-18-- for the money, the best rim ever made. Too many things go wrong with cross bikes to spend money on Open Pros. The CR-18 is way cheaper to replace after a crash or riding in mud a season. I'm not sure ceramics will do much good in wet, muddy conditions-- that's more of a road wheel-- made for riding down mountians.
If you want to get crazy do what the trials guys do. Take a grinding wheel to that rim and score it up some. Not enough to mess up the wall structurally, but enough to give it some grab. A DIY version of the Mavic SUP sidewalls. Worth a try since you're ditching the rim anyways.
And yeah the CR-18's are so so. I rode them on my fixie for a while untill I could get some Velocity's.... but I guess on the cheap they are good replacements.