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In February 2006, CU alum Jeremy Bloom had reached the pinnacle of professional skiing. Once the youngest male freestyle skier to make the U.S. team, he entered the Turin Olympics victorious in an unprecedented six straight freestyle races. He was the No. 1 freestyle and mogul skier in the world, the favorite to win gold in men’s moguls. He finished sixth overall.
Two days after the Olympics, he made the journey from Italy to Indianapolis to compete in the NFL Scouting Combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the NFL Draft despite being three years removed from playing football.
Bloom’s CU football career had as promising a start as his skiing one. In 2002, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound wide receiver and return specialist scored a 94-yard touchdown on his first catch. The Loveland native was as explosive on the field as he was on the slopes. He scored five touchdowns of 75 yards or more and averaged 19 yards per catch in his career.
After his 2003 sophomore season, the NCAA ruled Bloom ineligible because he accepted endorsement money that he needed to ski on the World Cup circuit.
His appeals failed, but by then he was off, skiing around the world and climbing his way to the top of the rankings. He was off to Turin, off to Indianapolis and off to Philadelphia.
Bloom made it to the NFL just as the smaller slot receiver was emerging as a viable offensive weapon. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, but that ended before training camp was finished.
His athletic career effectively over, Bloom dabbled — in modeling, for Hilfiger, Abercrombie, GQ and Cosmo; in television, as a VJ on Palladia, on a dating show with Pauly D and as an analyst on ESPN.
He never stuck with any of those for very long, but after all the experimentation, Bloom finally found the success after sports that evades many athletes.
In 2008, he started the Wish of a Lifetime Foundation that grants lifelong wishes to financially-disadvantaged senior citizens.
CUI Staff Writer Tommy Wood caught up with Bloom as he prepared to head to Sochi to support the U.S. in the Olympics.
How did you balance skiing, football and school while at CU?
It was never easy, but I enjoyed all of my activities at CU, so it wasn’t a chore to balance them. Plus, I had been doing the balancing act all of my life, so I became use to it. Because football and skiing were my dreams, it was always so great to be able to continue to compete in them at higher and higher levels, and it never seemed like an option to not balance them.
Did you train for both sports at the same time?
No, I wouldn’t. They would take very different types of training, so they would be very individualized.
Your college football career ended because of NCAA amateurism regulations. Did you consider joining other former and current athletes as a plaintiff in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit?
I’m cheering for any change inside the NCAA that benefits the student athletes.
Should college athletes be allowed to earn endorsement money? Will they anytime soon?
Yes, I believe they should be able to earn endorsement money. Playing sports can be a very expensive endeavor, and they should be allowed to capitalize on that choice. I think that there are multiple people around the country who are working toward that goal, so I believe it is in the future.
You’re the same size as Wes Welker and you had a faster 40 time at the Combine. With the greater role of slot receivers in today’s NFL, do you wish you stuck it out in the league for a little longer?
Sure, it would have been fun to continue that part of my life a bit longer, but I am happy with where the NFL took me and the opportunities that it has created in my life. I am very happy with the endeavors that I have chosen to follow now, and I feel like they are a good representation of who I am today.
Was it hard to transition from the 2006 Olympics to the NFL Combine in two days?
Yes and no. Yes, because I had to deal with my performance at the Olympics quickly, but no because I had another dream to accomplish.
What’s your assessment of this year’s ski team?
I think there is some great talent this year. I know they have stiff international competition, but I look forward to seeing plenty of Americans on the podium this year.
What do you think of athletes like Bode Miller and Todd Lodwick skiing at the highest level in their late 30s? Could you have kept it up for that long?
Skiing is really hard on the body; it would have been tough to keep it up for that many more years. And I think that I would have missed other opportunities if I would have done that. But I’m big fans of both Bode and Todd and am very impressed by their athletic longevity.
What do the new events (slopestyle skiing, slopestyle snowboarding, parallel slalom snowboarding and women’s ski jumping) bring to the Games?
Diversity in sport, more talent and hopefully more interest from the public. Stoked to watched it all come together in Sochi!
Are the new events necessary, or do they pander too much to the X Games crowd?
I think that they are necessary in order to keep the Olympics current. They need to be matched with what the best athletes are doing, and the new events represent this.
Are you still involved with the U.S. ski team in any capacity?
Absolutely. I attend their events, keep in touch with the staff and cheer for the athletes. I just had dinner with [current CEO] Bill Marolt and incoming CEO Tiger [Shaw].
Any plans to get into coaching, either in football or skiing?
Not at this time.
You’ve mentioned your grandfather as one of your biggest inspirations, both with skiing and your Wish of a Lifetime Foundation. Talk a little about his influence.
He was the person that used to take me skiing as a kid. And being three, four or five spending time with your grandparents is such a treat. I really value that memory and that time that we spent together. Both my grandparents have been such huge inspirations to me, starting an organization that honors that generation felt easy, and like a no-brainer.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Tommy Wood at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.