Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Sauze d'Oulx, Italy Jeremy Bloom has stood inside the 20-yard line waiting for a punt so many times, he can't imagine nerves being a problem when he's in the starting gate.
Even if this time it happens to be the Olympics -- and most likely his last major ski competition.
"There's not much like returning a punt," the former Colorado football player said. "I know no one's running to take my head off here."
He'll worry about things like that next week, when he attends the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
On Wednesday, he'll be part of an American freestyle skiing team that is widely regarded as one of the deepest in men's moguls, given that Nate Roberts, ranked fifth in this year's World Cup standings, didn't even make the squad.
Bloom, whose college football career was cut short two years ago when the NCAA ruled he couldn't play while accepting ski endorsements, won the Olympic trials in late December to go along with three top-five finishes on the World Cup circuit.
Last year, he won an unprecedented six straight World Cup events, establishing himself as the best moguls skier of 2005, and maybe the man to beat at the Turin Games. He's ranked seventh in World Cup standings this season, largely because he has limited his action to focus on the Olympics.