When U.S. freestyle moguls skiers want to know what the best athletes in the sport are doing, all they have to do is turn to their teammates. The United States has dominated World Cup competitions in moguls for several seasons. In this report, VOA's Jim Stevenson profiles the man leading the way, Jeremy Bloom.
Jeremy Bloom has been the World Cup moguls champion twice. He has three World Championship medals, and last season he collected a record six straight World Cup wins.
"I love to jump," he said. "And I love to catch big air. And I love to push the limits on the moguls. And I think as far as from a spectator's standpoint, especially with the younger demographic in this country, it is important for the Olympic movement to continue to have sports like freestyle skiing and snowboarding halfpipe because of the birth of alternative sports and the 'X-Games.' And the interest level in those type of daring sports, our sport has that appeal," Bloom said.
Daring sports are not the only ones that appeal to Bloom. When he was not flying over the snow-covered mounds on a steep slope, Bloom liked to return kickoffs in American-style football at the University of Colorado. The good-looking Bloom also was pursuing a lucrative modeling career. But because he was receiving product endorsement money, NCAA officials decided Bloom's amateur status had been compromised.
Bloom sued the NCAA over its ban and eventually decided to defy the rule by taking on sponsors. It was either that or give up professional skiing and only play college football. But the NCAA's final word came in August 2004. Because Bloom was stuck between the NCAA's rules and those of the United States Olympic Committee, he missed his chance to play football as an upperclassman.
But that outcome has not chilled his preparations on the slopes. And Bloom says the race to be more creative while in the air is becoming more intense.
"Every year, it is like 'what are you doing now?' " Bloom said. "You just learned backflip 720-degree iron-cross grab, but you have got to have something else. That was so last year.' And these are hard tricks."
Jeremy Bloom says the real trick is to have a routine completely mastered before using it on the huge Olympic stage.
"The hardest part is not necessarily landing that trick. The hardest part is becoming consistent with the trick. And to just throw out a new trick on the Olympic year, you just do not want to go to the Olympics with some trick you land two out of ten tries."
In Italy, Bloom is hoping a lot of fresh snow will help his run for gold.
"The course itself has a great pitch," he said. The one downside to the course that is it is in the town. They bring in a pile of snow. And the pile of snow is about as hard as this floor. And that is not enjoyable."
What would be enjoyable for Jeremy Bloom is to have a Turin Olympics gold medal around his neck, and perhaps with a few U.S. college sports officials watching thousands of kilometers away on television.
The U.S. Olympic freestyle skiing team will officially be named on January 25.