If Jeremy Bloom wins a gold medal in moguls skiing at next year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, his sponsors and the U.S. Olympic Committee should send a thank-you card to the NCAA.
Football's loss was clearly freestyle skiing's gain.
Bloom, 22, is the hottest moguls skier in the world this season with four consecutive wins on the World Cup circuit. He looks like he'll retain his icy grip on the No. 1 spot in the standings
"I feel really relaxed," Bloom said in a recent conference call with reporters. "I don't look at it as a winning streak. I just try to improve a little more every day and hopefully it will help me next year."
This is the first time Bloom has concentrated on only one sport. Growing up, he played football and basketball and ran track in school and hit the slopes when the bell rang. He was a unique two-sport man at Colorado, balancing football and skiing for two years before the NCAA and its outdated rules caught up to him.
Even though moguls skiing is not an NCAA sport, the organization ruled that Bloom could not remain eligible for football if he accepted money from sponsors for his skiing.
Now he's down to one sport, and dominating it.
"Other sports kept me mentally fresh," he said. "It's been more of a challenge to dedicate myself mentally to one sport. It's a continual learning experience."
Coming out of high school in Loveland, Colo., Bloom was skilled enough in football to be recruited to Colorado as a wide receiver and kick returner. At the same time, he was developing into a world-class freestyle skier in moguls.
Traveling the World Cup circuit to compete isn't cheap and sponsorship offers and endorsement deals came Bloom's way, and not just for the ski stuff. Bloom has the kind of looks to draw modeling assignments; he's appeared in Vanity Fair and GQ magazines and in ads for Abercrombie & Fitch and Under Armour while being labeled "Eye Candy" by Cosmo Girl magazine.
Bloom finished a disappointing ninth at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 but managed to get in two seasons of football at Colorado (he scored five touchdowns of 75 yards or longer) before the NCAA went petty and denied him further eligibility.
"I believe I'm permanently ineligible," Bloom said of his college football status. "I've moved on in my life. Maybe after the Olympics, I'll try to go play in the NFL."
In contrast to the NCAA, the NFL probably would embrace a unique two- sport athlete such as Bloom. The last athlete who excelled at skiing and played in the NFL was kicker Jan Stenerud.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2005