Bloom a most marketable commodity
In search of a sponsor to help fund his road to the Olympics, Jeremy Bloom literally wears a “For Rent” sign on the front of his ski helmet these days.Whoever decides to put their name on that spot will be backing quite an athlete.Last week, Bloom became the first man to win six straight events in the same season on the World Cup moguls circuit. In a sport where bumps and curves change course by course and sometimes minute by minute depending on the weather, it’s considered a nearly impossible streak.He is good looking, well-spoken, and a clear gold-medal favorite for the Turin Olympics.Until now, he was best known as the guy who took on the NCAA – and lost. But while the NCAA might have stamped out his dream to both play college football and ski – “I didn’t quit,” he says. “I got booted out the door” – he is proving to be anything but a loser.Thanks to the six straight wins, he has clinched the World Cup championship, and with the Olympics less than a year away, he will soon get his time in the spotlight – as one of America’s most recognizable stars.”Basically, you’ve got a very young, very successful, All-American boy,” said his agent, Andy Carroll.Bloom says the key to his resounding success this year is that he focused on winning again – a strategy that sounds much more simple than it really is.
Moguls skiing in the World Cup season is a lot like NASCAR in the sense that a skier can run conservatively all year long, try for third- and fourth-place finishes and still win the championship.Bloom had tried that route that before. Just last season, he finished first once, second three times, third twice and fourth twice to wind up third in the overall standings. It didn’t feel right to him.”I basically said, I don’t want to be as safe,” he said. “If I lose some consistency to win, I’ll do that. But when I stick a run, I’m going to win.”And when he doesn’t, the results can be drastic – like the 35th-place finish he posted in December, or the 16th-place finish he posted a bit after that.Overall, though, his move to a more daring, explosive jump on the top of the hill has more than paid off.Bloom’s new trick – the one he’ll likely show off at the Olympics – is called a straight 720 iron-cross. Taking off from the ramp, he makes two full revolutions with his skis crossed. It’s one of the most difficult tricks in the sport – so difficult that only he and American teammate Travis Cabral try it in competition.And though it may not be as showy as the off-axis tricks that have come into play since the last Olympics – jumps where the skiers go parallel to the ground – the 720 iron cross is more difficult because, as Bloom puts it, “the takeoff has to be absolutely perfect.”His streak includes two wins in Utah and three in Japan. His sixth win last week was notable not only because it got him the record, but because it came in Sauze D’Olux, Italy, on the course where the Olympics will be held next February.
“A carnival atmosphere,” was how Bloom described the Olympic run.His sponsorship deal will augment his training for the Olympics. At costs “well into six figures,” Carroll says, Bloom must pay for a physical therapist, a trainer, plus trips to training sites above and beyond where the U.S. ski team takes him.It was this kind of funding that was the crux of the Bloom-NCAA imbroglio.In August, the NCAA closed the door on the issue, rejecting Bloom’s appeal to accept endorsement money for skiing while he played football at Colorado. Bloom had also gone to the courts in search of an exception, but to no avail.He caught 24 passes for two touchdowns – both of more than 80 yards – and returned two punts for scores for Colorado over the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Had he played last season, he would likely have started and been key in the Buffs’ game plans.By the time the season began, though, he knew his college football career was over.In Colorado’s season opener, against Colorado State, he was introduced to the crowd between the third and fourth quarters.”A thundering roar shook the stadium as a fitting goodbye,” his father, Larry, wrote in a short story chronicling Bloom’s career.
But even though he won’t play another down of college football, Bloom’s career is hardly over. Most indications are that he will get a shot at the NFL.”Football is something I miss. I miss it a lot,” Bloom said. “At this point in time, though, I’m content with skiing and having the goals I’ve set. I know there’s another level of football past college, and I can always point toward that.”Before that, though, there is skiing, and Bloom is at the top of his game. He has World Championships in Finland in a few weeks.Then, a nice long break before training for the Olympics begins.”He does not dream or think too much about that moment,” Larry Bloom wrote.Instead, he just focuses on trying to get better, to be the best he can be, which right now is the best in the world.Vail, Colorado