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Wednesday, June 4
 
Bloom will continue to play football and ski

Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- Jeremy Bloom settled his two-sport problem: He will play college football for Colorado and compete without endorsements in freestyle skiing.

The Olympian intends to ski competitively in a shortened schedule after the football season.

"I know money is the last thing that brings you happiness,'' he said Wednesday. "Getting an education and playing college football is what I love to do. That's what makes me the most happy.''

Bloom is a champion moguls skier and a standout wide receiver and punt returner.

His decision came after the NCAA ruled he could not remain eligible for football and earn endorsement money as a skier. The money helps cover the cost of training and traveling as a World Cup competitor.

Bloom has appealed the ruling, but a state district judge last year denied his request for a temporary restraining order against the NCAA.

Speaking at a news conference at the Colorado campus, Bloom recalled his thrill of returning a punt for a touchdown against Colorado State last year.

"Coming here right after the Olympics, I knew what it was like to compete in the biggest competition the world has to offer, and the feelings of representing my country there were amazing,'' he said. "As an athlete, that's the biggest honor I will ever have in my life.

"But as far as just sheer thrill and emotion, I got an opportunity to return that punt last year. When I scored, I don't think I'll ever have a feeling like that in my entire life. I just hope to have maybe a couple more this year.''

Colorado football coach Gary Barnett called Bloom's decision "testimony to Jeremy's love of the game, his love of his teammates, his love for the University of Colorado and his unselfishness. In so many ways, it epitomizes what a student-athlete should be about.''

Bloom said the U.S. ski team tried unsuccessfully to set up a fund to help him, but officials were wary because of the NCAA's position.

"There was nothing they could do for me,'' he said.

Ski team spokesman Tom Kelly said officials would support him if he wanted to return after football.

"He's achieved being a member of our team based on his athletic ability and what he's done and that doesn't change regardless of what he wants to do,'' he said.

By choosing football, Bloom walked away from endorsement contracts amounting to at least six figures. Most Olympic-level skiers need endorsements and sponsors to fund their careers.

Asked how much money he was leaving on the table, Bloom said, "It's a lot more than last year, and last year my agent told me it was six figures. It's substantial.''

Bloom competed last season on the freestyle circuit at his own expense against a field of competitors who had corporate sponsorship for equipment, training and travel.

Despite missing half the ski season because of football, Bloom won two medals at the 2003 world championships -- gold in dual moguls and silver in individual moguls. He finished 13th in the World Cup standings and had four top-four finishes.

He placed ninth in the moguls in the 2002 Olympics but bounced back a month later to win the World Cup moguls title in Finland.

As a freshman at Colorado in 2002, Bloom had three scoring plays of 75 yards or longer, including a 94-yard reception that was the longest in school history and an 80-yard punt return against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.




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