Alex Howe competes in the Biathlon, a winter Olympic sport combining cross country skiing and rifle marksmanship. (Courtesy photo)
By David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun
MARTELLO, Italy — Competing among the best in the world, Alex Howe of Gilford will test his speed and accuracy as a member of the International Biathlon Union Cup Team, racing for the next two weekends in Italy and Germany.
Howe competes in Biathlon, a winter Olympic sport combining cross country skiing and rifle marksmanship. On Dec. 14-19, his team from Craftsbury Green Racing Project of Vermont entered the Biathlon trials at Mt. Itasca Winter Sports Center near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Following the conclusion of trials races, Howe, Emily Dreissigacker and Hallie Grossman of Craftsbury Green Racing Project were named to the U.S. Biathlon Association International Biathlon Union Cup Team. They will be racing at IBU Cup 5 and 6 in Italy and Germany.
At the trials, in a first sprint race, Howe earned a spot on the podium, finishing second with only two misses. In the following day's mass start, Howe landed on the podium in second with three misses. In the third day's final 10-kilometer sprint, Howe finished third (0:29:45.0).
Now, Howe is in Italy, watching crews haul manmade snow to a course for the IBU Cup 4, held Jan. 5-8.
"I'm very excited to have qualified and be racing against some of the best biathletes in the world in the coming days," Howe told The Laconia Daily Sun via email. "It's an awesome chance to compare yourself to the best and see how you stack up. We have a 10K sprint Thursday and again on Saturday, then a pursuit race on Sunday."
In his quest for reaching world level for Biathlon, Howe trains and works in Vermont for most of the summer and travels to races in the winter. Sometimes, team members compete during the summer. Last August, in Jericho, Vermont, at the North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships, Howe was the top Green Racing Project biathlete in the men's race, placing sixth.
A cross country ski racer for the Green Racing Project, Howe concentrates on the sport of Biathlon, a sport dating back to the 1700s along the Swedish-Norwegian border. According to the U.S. Biathlon Association, based in New Gloucester, Maine, "The world's first known ski club, the 'Trysil Rifle and Ski Club' was formed in Norway in 1861 to promote national defense at the local level."
The association noted, "Alternating skiing and shooting, Biathletes compete under the pressure of the clock that continues to run even as they stop to shoot. There is a penalty for each missed shot so Biathletes must balance speed on the course and on the range with shooting accuracy."
Next weekend, Howe will compete at IBU Cup 5, held Jan. 12-15 in Langdorf, Germany.
First, team members will face the course in Martello. The races on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday required a monumental preparation by course managers.
Howe explained, "We arrived in Italy on Monday evening. We are in a small valley in northern Italy right now in the town of Martello. There is almost no snow here in town but the organization has gone through an amazing amount of effort to put together an awesome course of snow. They do what most European venues have to these days, snow farming. They have snowmaking and then truck the snow around the course using dump trucks."
To follow Howe's progress, visit his team's website at http://greenracingproject.com.