Only a few minutes earlier, Jeremy Bloom had won a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
But as he stood at the bottom of a moguls course in Steamboat Springs in December -- at the peak of his career -- the 23-year-old Loveland, Colo., resident seemed more interested in chatting about football. "Why are you talking about that now?" a reporter finally asked.
"Hey," Bloom said, "it's playoff time." A few months earlier, Bloom had been less subtle. "The Olympics are great. But they're not the Super Bowl or the NFL."
No one plays the game quite like Jeremy Bloom. Today he'll end his skiing career in the Olympic men's moguls event and then fly to Indianapolis for the NFL combine one week later -- a trip only he could make. The world's most famous world-class skier/wide receiver, Bloom even brought a football to Turin, not only to prepare for the combine but also to prepare for today's race.
It's the oldest page in Bloom's playbook: In football season, he stays loose by thinking about the slopes; before a moguls race, he keeps cool by focusing on football.
"It's a way of helping him perform under stress," said Larry Bloom, Jeremy's father, who is a clinical psychologist.
Added Jeremy: "Put it this way. It's nice to have a focus after the Olympics because if you're just a freestyle skier, this is the pinnacle." Bloom manically juggles multiple sports as much for mental as physical reasons. "It keeps me so mentally fresh," he said.
Bloom earned his black belt in karate at age 12, joined the U.S. freestyle ski team at 15 and won state championships in both football and track in high school.
On a November weekend in 2000, he received a two-day pass from moguls training camp to compete in the Class 4A state football playoffs, where he caught a school-record nine passes for Loveland High.
But that merely was a prelude to a three-week span in December 2002, when he scored an 80-yard punt-return touchdown for the University of Colorado in the Big 12 championship game, took four final exams, finished fourth in a World Cup event in Finland and played in the Alamo Bowl.
"When he has time off, he isn't really sure what to do with it," Larry Bloom said. "He's a little lost." Added his mother, Char: "He's best when he's busy and there's not a whole lot of time to think."
In skiing, World Cup racers marvel at his quick feet.
"He is a little inhuman when it comes to this sport," said two-time Olympian and bronze medalist Steve Podborski, an NBC commentator. "He has magic. He's so naturally talented that it's ridiculous."
Although Bloom won six consecutive World Cup races last season, he finished 36th in the overall 2005 World Championships. He had a similar setback at the 2002 Olympics, where he placed ninth.
"The biggest disappointment of my life by far," he told Ski Magazine. "Everything I ever worked for, just down the drain."
A viral infection dragged down Bloom at the Salt Lake Games, but he also allowed an MTV crew to follow him around, which wore on him as well.
The MTV time led to lucrative endorsement deals -- and celebrity.
"An oyster shell opened up after the 2002 Olympics," Larry Bloom said.
Today, Bloom has an NFL agent, a ski agent, a talent agent, a publicist and seven corporate sponsors. He also has a massage therapist, a nutritionist and a chef.
He had an offer to host a show on Nickelodeon and a modeling contract with Tommy Hilfiger. He also has done photo shoots for the cover of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog and several magazines.
His girlfriend is Cameran Eubanks, 22, one of the stars of MTV's Real World San Diego, and he receives marriage proposals by mail.
"Now he's got it even worse because everybody wants a piece of him," Moseley said. "But I think he should just block everything out, show up and finally win that thing."
In fact, Bloom's skiing legacy might be on the line today. Four years ago, his friends and family members joined him in Salt Lake City, adding to an already chaotic scene.
This time only his mother has traveled to Italy, and he might not meet with her until after his final run.
Then again, it might not be his last race, not with the NFL draft looming.
Source: Cincinnati Post, February 15, 2006