Count Bloom in |

Count Bloom in

Photo by Nathan Bilow/Associated PressJeremy Bloom performs a trick on his way to winning a spot on the Olympic team during the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Moguls team trials in Steamboat, Colo. on Friday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. ” Jeremy Bloom is going to the Olympics. After winning a wildcard spot at the U.S. Olympic qualifier moguls event in Steamboat Springs Friday, Bloom added one more activity to his winter schedule.

After throwing a big 720 with an iron cross off the first hit of the course on Steamboat’s Voodoo Run, Bloom gathered speed as his feet bounced like synchronized springs over each bump and he finished his run with an off-axis 720 D-spin. The clean combination gave him a score of 27.82 points.

He fought the urge to celebrate over the final three bumps, but watched relaxed as his key competitors, all fellow U.S. skiers, failed to match his run.

“I wasn’t nervous watching the other guys,” said the 23-year-old Loveland, Colo. native. “Even if the judges didn’t put me in first place, I really accomplished everything I wanted to today ” to not get too technical with my skiing. I needed to increase my speed. I needed to look for better angles in my skiing to increase my turn scores. I really wanted to work with the top 720, being more patient with it, then taking the bottom air up instead of just rushing in. Those aspects really came together.”

February will be a busy month for Bloom, a member of the University of Colorado football team until he had to forego playing the last two seasons to pursue his skiing career. One week after the Feb. 15 Olympic moguls event in Sauze d’Oulx, Italy, Bloom will begin the NFL combine in Indianapolis, IN, before the draft on Feb. 29.

“It’s nice to check that box,” Bloom said of making the U.S. Olympic team. “I’ve been saying for a long time that if I make it to the Olympics, I’ll be at the combine a week after. But it really came together today, which is a great feeling. It’s probably a better feeling than knowing I’m going to the Olympics.”

Bloom said that although he thinks about football incessantly, especially as the NFL playoffs are about to begin, doing well in the remaining four World Cup events and then at the Olympics (better than the 9th place he landed in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Games), is his immediate aim.

“Any time it’s playoff time in the NFL, I get a little ahead of myself,” Bloom said, adding that he’s sorry he’ll be on the road skiing and will miss attending the Denver Broncos’ playoffs.

“There’s nothing like the playoffs. I’m very happy to make the (Olympic) team, and that is my focus right now. I’m ready, when this (ski) year ends to move fully into football. I’ve never dedicated all of my time to football, and I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked before.”

Bloom’s mother, Keystone, Colo. resident Char Bloom, said that when her son was small, a pediatrician pointed out that the boy, who is now 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds, was the “smallest and whitest boy of his age.”

“But he looked at them and said, ‘I’m also the fastest,'” Char Bloom said Friday, expressing relief that she’s now guaranteed to make good use out of the plane tickets she’s already bought to Torino.

Bloom was the 2005 world moguls champion and won six straight World Cup events last season. As for his performance Friday, U.S. Freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said Bloom and his teammate Travis Mayer (who finished just a fraction of a point behind Bloom, at 27.57), put down perfect runs.

“(Bloom’s) and T. Mayer’s were gold and silver in Torino,” Wintersteen said. “They were flawless today, both of them.”

Travis Cabral of South Lake Tahoe was the last finals competitor down the course Friday and knew that he had to do something impressive for the win. Cabral pulled a 720 iron cross off the first hit, then went so big with his final hit, that he inadvertently had to turn his 720 into a 1080 and crashed.

“I thought I had too much air and went for another spin,” Cabral said. “The one thing about this competition is that first place is the winner and nothing else matters. So you have to give it your all. I knew that I had to go for it to beat Jeremy. I knew what it was going to take to win, so I went for the gold. When you do that, you’re right on the edge. Sometimes, you go past the edge.”

While some competitors questioned the judging Friday, Cabral felt that Bloom won fair and square.

“I saw Jeremy’s run. He just ripped it,” Cabral said. “I knew as I was watching everyone else that they were laying down runs and skiing great, but they weren’t winning. But Jeremy, he was taking it right to the edge. He was flying. That’s what you’ve go to do. That’s the name of our game.”

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