Bloom, 23, earned six consecutive events last year in winning the World Cup moguls championship. That makes him a favorite for Olympic gold in men’s moguls.
As soon as he finishes competing Feb. 15, Bloom will fly to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine.
Bloom’s college football career was cut short after the NCAA ruled him ineligible because of his endorsements as a professional skier, but he still finished second on Colorado’s career list with five touchdowns of 75 yards or longer.
“Skiing is such an individual sport,” Bloom said. “That’s good, and it’s bad. When you win, there’s no one to celebrate with. In football, you have teammates and the pressure and the rivalries and 80,000 people screaming. I can’t find that in skiing. People know about my sport every four years.”
The 5-foot, 9-inch, 170-pounder is a better skier than he is a football player. But it is his potential in football that intrigues him.
“If I stopped skiing right now, I feel I could look back on my skiing career with a smile,” Bloom said. “But football is an unknown.”
Bloom has no doubts about his ability to win the gold medal.
But he will have to hold off his U.S. teammates, as well as Tapio Luusua and Sami Mustonen of Finland, and Japan’s Yugo Tsukita. The United States has five of the top-11 moguls skiers in the world, and only three can join Bloom in Turin.
Nate Roberts, 23, is the reigning world champion; Toby Dawson, 27, was the 2003-04 World Cup runner-up; Travis Cabral, 22, was the 2002-03 World Cup champion; and Travis Mayer, 23, was the 2002 Olympic silver medalist.
The Americans are on top of the world in aerials, too.
Jeret “Speedy” Peterson is the reigning World Cup champion; Eric Bergoust is the 1998 Olympic gold medalist; Joe Pack is the 2002 Olympic silver medalist; and Ryan St. Onge was the U.S. Trials winner.
Peterson got his nickname as a child when he cut in line during an aerials camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. Coaches named him after the cartoon character “Speed Racer.”
“People don’t even know my real name now,” Peterson said.
Peterson’s signature is the “Hurricane,” a full-triple full-full, which is one twist on the first flip, three twists on the second flip and one twist on the last flip. It is the toughest jump in freestyle aerials.
“Pretty much it feels like you’re in a hurricane,” Peterson said. “You can’t see anything until the snow comes up and hits you on the feet.”
The U.S. women aerialists are long shots to medal in Turin, but then, just getting to the Olympics is a victory for Emily Cook.
Cook qualified for the 2002 Games, but a month before the Olym-pics, she was seriously injured during a practice session in Lake Placid, N.Y. Both of her feet were broken on a landing, and she was forced to watch the Games from a wheelchair.
“That was devastating for me,” Cook said. “... I was out there watching my teammates, watching Joe win a medal. Some of it was very hard, but some of it was amazing and inspiring. It made me positive that coming back to the sport ... was what I had to do. It was no question whether I would come back. I just didn’t know quite how long it would take.”
It took three years before Cook competed in a World Cup event again. She finished in the top 10.
Now, she is back on the Olympic team. “My body has never felt better,” Cook said.
Australia’s Alisa Camplin, the defending Olympic gold medalist, tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in October, a year after tearing it the first time. She underwent an operation to graft a dead man’s Achilles’ tendon onto her knee to replace her damaged ligament. Her teammate, Lydia Ierodiaconou, the 2004-05 World Cup runner-up, had the same surgery last June.
And China has two contenders in World Cup champion Li Nina and Guo Xinxin, who finished third in the World Cup.
In moguls, American Hannah Kearney, 19, ended the 2004-05 season by winning the World Championships over Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic and Margarita Marbler of Austria.
“Winning the World Championships was a fantastic way to end the season,” said Kearney, who was fifth in the World Cup standings. “It doesn’t mean the season was good, but that day sure was.”
To win in Turin, Kearney will have to beat Canada’s Jennifer Heil, who won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2004 and 2005.
© 2006, KRT.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.