CU Football Player Chooses Skis

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Salt Lake City, Utah Oct 22, 2001 (AP by Tim Dahlberg)--Jeremy Bloom is usually in motion, whether it's running track, catching footballs or catching some air above some mountain moguls.

On Saturday, he was sitting still. And wishing he was somewhere else.

``It's tough sitting here when I could be there,'' Bloom said.

``There'' is Austin, Texas, where 14th-ranked Colorado played No. 9 Texas on Saturday in what would have been the biggest game of Bloom's young college career.

That career, however, was put on hold in August while Bloom pursues another dream--Olympic gold in freestyle moguls.

``They're playing great and I'm looking forward to watching it on television,'' Bloom said. ``I'd love to be there, but hopefully I'll play next year.''

The 19-year-old Bloom thought he had it all figured out after a standout year in Fort Collins, Colo., as a senior wide receiver on his high school team.

He had a scholarship to Colorado and a promise he would get playing time as a freshman. Bloom thought he would play the regular season, then make a long-shot attempt to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in December.

That changed after Bloom went to South America to train with the freestyle team in the summer. The night before he returned home, coaches took him aside and told him he had a good chance to make the team if he concentrated on skiing.

``I had planned to play football all year,'' Bloom said. ``But I couldn't pass up the opportunity.''

His decision made, Bloom faced having to do something tougher than the acrobatics he performs above the snow. He had to tell Colorado coach Gary Barnett he wanted to pursue an Olympic medal before he played major college football.

``I was so nervous going in because I didn't know what they'd think,'' Bloom said. ``I didn't know if they'd be supportive or not, but they were. They said go for your dream and we'll see you next year.''

Barnett said he would hold a scholarship for the small (5-foot-9, 165-pound) but speedy (he finished second in the 100 at the Colorado state track meet last year in 10.72 seconds) wide receiver. The coach expected Bloom to get some playing time this year.

Bloom withdrew from the university so he could keep four years of eligibility. He was rewarded by U.S. ski coaches with an invitation to the World Cup in France in December, where a top performance could help him make the team.

Bloom, whose mother is a ski instructor, has been on the U.S. ski team since he was a freshman in high school. He still has an uphill battle to make the Olympic team since the United States is deep in moguls.

Jonny Moseley is the defending Olympic champion in the event, and Bloom thinks there are a half dozen or so Americans who will be vying for three or four spots in the games.

``I'm working hard every day,'' he said. ``I'm doing everything in my power to get to the Olympics. If I ski my best everything else will work out.''

If it doesn't, Bloom knows he has a scholarship to Colorado, and yet another dream _ playing in the NFL.

``I won't think of it as a wasted year if I don't make it,'' he said. ``If it doesn't work out I have something to fall back on in football.''

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press