Simone Biles ended up where she always does, even if it took a roller coaster for her to get there.
Biles won the all-around competition on the first day of selection camp and locked in a spot on the world championship team despite errors on all four events. She finished with 55.70 points, 0.400 points ahead of reigning world silver medalist Shilese Jones.
“She was like, `Yeah, I don’t know what happened,’” Chellsie Memmel, the technical lead for the women’s program, said of her conversation with Biles after the meet.
“(I said), `Get it out here,’” Memmel said. “We’ll just turn the page. She knows it was not even close to her personal best but it’s OK right now.”
The remaining five members of the squad will be named after the second day of competition Wednesday. Jones is all but assured of making the team, which will be trying to win a record seventh consecutive title at the world championships.
The U.S. women begin the world championships with qualifying on Oct. 1.
“There’s still things to be worked on, obviously,” Memmel said. “Do I still think we’re in a fine place? Absolutely. Am I glad some of these hiccups happened here? Yes. I think sometimes that needs to happen. But there’s still more work to be done. They all know that.”
Biles has won every all-around competition she’s been in going back to the summer of 2013, claiming five world titles and the Olympic gold in 2016 during that run. Nothing suggested this would be any different after she cruised to her record eighth U.S. title last month, beating Jones by almost four points, a massive margin in a sport usually decided by tenths on a point.
But Biles got off to a rocky start Tuesday night. She fell on uneven bars and was down in 10th place after the first event, nearly two points behind leader and teammate Zoe Miller. That wouldn’t ordinarily be cause for concern. Uneven bars is Biles’ weakest event – if you can call it that – and she was sure to make up ground the rest of the way.
Which she did. Only not enough to give her any breathing room until the very end.
Biles missed a connection on balance beam, lowering her start value on the event by a half-point from the national championships. She went out of bounds twice on floor exercise, costing herself another four-tenths of a point.
Jones, meanwhile, was solid through the first three events, not making any major mistakes that would give Biles the chance to pass her.
They both finished on their highest-scoring events, vault for Biles and uneven bars for Jones. Biles went first and did her Yurchenko double pike, a vault so difficult few men even try it. But she had so much power – who does that on a Yurchenko double pike? – that she couldn’t control the landing and rolled backward.
She also took a half-point neutral deduction for having coach Laurent Landi stand on the mat in case something went awry. Her score of 14.55 was the third-highest of the night on vault.
That seemed to open the door for Jones, whose usual uneven bars routine would put her in medal contention at worlds. But Jones clipped her feet on the mat on a skill, an error that ruined any chances she had of beating Biles.
“We could hear it across the gym,” Memmel said. “That’s a point deduction.”
Jones’ score was just a 13.5 – roughly 1.5 points below what she did at nationals.
Just like that, Biles was atop the standings. As was expected all along.
Simone Biles' groundbreaking vault gets full credit
Simone Biles is finally getting the credit she deserves.
International gymnastics officials are giving Biles’ Yurchenko double pike vault a 6.4 start value, or difficulty score, Chellsie Memmel, the women’s program technical lead, confirmed Tuesday night. While this is a fair valuation of the vault, which is so difficult few men even try it, gymnastics officials have a history of watering down Biles’ most difficult skills to discourage other gymnasts from trying them.
“We were very excited,” said Memmel, who is also an international-level judge. “We’re all quite shocked and very pleased.”
If Biles does the vault at the world championships, which begin next week, it will be the fifth skill named for her. She has two skills on floor exercise, and one each on balance beam and vault.
It also would be the most difficult vault being done today by a woman – and not by a small margin. The Yurchenko double pike would be worth eight-tenths of a point more than the next-most difficult vault, the Cheng.
Biles is a unique talent, able to do things most gymnasts cannot even fathom. But she is not reckless, often working on skills for months if not years before she even thinks about trying them in competition. It’s not fair to punish her as a deterrent to other gymnasts who would risk life and limb by chucking skills they have no business doing.
Biles, her coaches and U.S. officials have tried to make that point to the International Gymnastics Federation’s women’s technical committee.
This time, they got through.
Simone Biles vaults into first place
This is going to be close.
Simone Biles had too much power on her Yurchenko double pike vault and rolled backward on the landing. She scored a 14.550, which has her in first place – for now. But Shilese Jones is only 13.9 points behind, and she finishes on uneven bars, an event where she could contend for the world title next month.
Should Jones finish ahead of Biles, she will get the automatic spot on the world championship team. (Not that the United States would consider leaving Biles behind.) She also would be the first to defeat Biles in an official all-around competition since 2013.
Simone Biles loses additional points on floor exercise
Simone Biles is leaving the door open for her competitors.
Biles went out of bounds twice on floor exercise, a four-tenth deduction. After falling off uneven bars in her first event, the additional lost points could prove to be costly. She is third going into the final event, 0.750 points behind Kaliya Lincoln and 0.65 points behind Shilese Jones.
Biles finishes on vault, where she has a significant advantage. But Jones finishes on uneven bars, where she should challenge for the title at the world championships. At last month’s national championships, Biles scored a 15.7 for her Yurchenko double pike while Jones scored 14.9 and 15.0 on uneven bars.
But that included a half-point neutral deduction for Biles having coach Laurent Landi standing on the podium, ready to spot her if something went amiss with the vault so difficult few men even try it.
Only the top finisher Tuesday night locks in a spot on the world team. There’s no way the U.S. would leave Biles home, but she hasn’t faced this fierce of competition in a decade.
Not adding up
There was a scoring glitch that briefly affected standings midway through the meet.
The neutral deductions taken on floor exercise were being added to scores rather than subtracted. That gave Skye Blakely a score that was four-tenths higher than it should have been, putting her ahead of Simone Biles in the all-around standings.
The error was noticed quickly and fixed. Biles is now fourth at the halfway point with Blakely fifth.
Simone Biles rebounds on balance beam
Now that’s more like it from the four-time Olympic champion.
Simone Biles posted the third-highest score of the night on balance beam, pulling her from 10th place into fourth at the halfway point of Day 1 at the world team selection camp. She is now 0.850 points behind co-leaders Shilese Jones and Kaliya Lincoln, with her two best events – floor exercise and vault – still to come.
Zoe Miller is third and Skye Blakely is fifth.
Only the top gymnast Tuesday night locks a spot on the team for the world championships. That seemed almost certain to be Biles, who hasn’t lost an all-around competition going all the way back to 2013. But Biles fell on a release move on uneven bars, leaving her 1.7 points out of first place after the first event.
Biles managed to make up ground even though the start value for her beam routine was a half-point lower than at last month’s national championships. That likely means she didn’t get credit for some of her connected elements, and coach Cecile Landi was seen talking with judges after Biles’ routine.
— USA Gymnastics (@USAGym) September 20, 2023
Simone Biles trails after one rotation
Simone Biles has some ground to make up.
Biles, who has not lost an all-around competition going all the way back to 2013, is in sixth place after a fall on uneven bars, her first event at the world team selection camp. Biles scored a 12.8, leaving her 1.7 points behind teammate Zoe Miller. Skye Blakely, Jordan Chiles Shilese Jones and Kaliya Lincoln round out the top five.
Only the top gymnast Tuesday night locks a spot on the world championships team, but don’t count Biles out yet. Uneven bars is her weakest event, and she can make up most of ground on vault alone with her Yurchenko double pike.
The vault had a 6.4 start value – its level of difficulty – at nationals, a point higher than the second-toughest vault being done these days. She did it to near perfection at nationals, getting a 9.8 for execution. Even with a half-point neutral deduction for coach Laurent Landi being on the mat to spot her if needed, she still scored a 15.7, 1.35 ahead of Jones.
Simone Biles falls on uneven bars
Simone Biles’ night got off to a rough start.
The four-time Olympic champion fell on a release move on uneven bars, her first event. She got back on and finished the rest of the routine cleanly. Biles wound up with a score of 12.8.
Only the top all-around in tonight’s competition locks a spot on the world team, but this shouldn’t affect her much. Bars is her lowest-scoring event and, if the rest of the meet is like last month’s national championships, she’ll have a bit of a cushion.
Injury update: Katelyn Jong out after scary crash
Katelyn Jong was a late scratch after a scary crash on vault during warmups.
Jong’s hand slipped off the table. She had to be carried off the floor, per Olympics.com, and was being worked on by trainers. But she wasn’t in the introductions. Jong’s injury means there will be 18 gymnasts competing for the world and Pan American teams.
When is the US worlds and Pan Am Games selection camp?
The two-day meet is Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Day 1 begins at 6:50 p.m. ET, and gymnasts will compete on a minimum of two events. Day 2 begins at 6:15 p.m. ET, and gymnasts will be asked by the selection committee to do at least one event.
How to watch the US worlds and Pan Am Games selection camp
It’s only being shown on FlipNow.tv, USA Gymnastics’ subscription streaming service.
How to follow the US worlds and Pan Am Games selection camp
The 19 gymnasts at camp will be split between two events on each rotation. They’ll begin on uneven bars and balance beam, with Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles headlining the bars group and Shilese Jones, Leanne Wong, Skye Blakely and Jade Carey the big names on balance beam.
It’ll be beam and floor exercise for the second rotation, followed by vault and floor for the third rotation. The meet will wrap up with vault and bars.
You can find the live scores here.
Why isn't US worlds championship team chosen based on rank order?
Because that might not give the Americans the highest scoring potential.
Constructing a gymnastics lineup is a bit like doing a puzzle because of the sport’s scoring format. In qualifying, four gymnasts compete on each event and the lowest score is dropped. In the team final, however, it’s three up, three count: Three gymnasts compete on each event and every score counts.
That means medal contenders need a team that, ideally, can produce three big scores on every event. Or at least not have gaping holes on any event.
Someone who finishes fourth in the all-around might be a terrific gymnast. But if her best events are the same as the three gymnasts ahead of her and the Americans still need a monster score on, say, balance beam, she might not be the right fit. But someone who is terrific on balance beam but not as strong elsewhere might be.
The selection committee also will be looking at consistency.
Big scores are great, but only if a gymnast can produce them on a regular basis. Otherwise, a team is better off taking someone who might not score as high but is as consistent as a metronome, especially when the stakes are high.
Who are the gymnasts at US worlds championship team selection camp?
Joining Biles are Tokyo teammates Jade Carey, who is the reigning Olympic champion on floor exercise, and Jordan Chiles. Shilese Jones, who was the runner-up to Biles at nationals and also was the silver medalist in the all-around at last year's world championships and fellow 2022 world team members Skye Blakely and Leanne Wong, also will be competing at camp.
The other gymnasts expected at camp are: Kayla DiCello, Amelia Disidore, Addison Fatta, Madray Johnson, Katelyn Jong, Kaliya Lincoln, Eveylynn Lowe, Nola Matthews, Zoe Miller, Joscelyn Roberson, Tiana Sumanasekera, Lexi Zeiss and Alicia Zhou.
Why isn't Sunisa Lee at US worlds championship team selection camp?
The reigning Olympic champion declined an invitation to the selection camp.
USA Gymnastics didn't say why, but her training has been limited the past six months because of a kidney issue that forced her to end her final NCAA season early. She only did two events, balance beam and vault, at last month's national championships.
What’s at stake for the U.S. women at the world championships?
A whole lot of history.
Biles needs one more medal to tie Vitaly Scherbo as the most-decorated gymnast of all time. Biles has 32 medals from the world championships and Olympics, including a record 25 at worlds. Scherbo, who competed for the Soviet Union, the Unified Team and Belarus, has 33.
(To be fair, Biles has won hers doing two fewer events. And she’s already topped Scherbo with 23 golds at worlds and the Olympics to his 18.)
Biles also can get yet another skill named after her – this would be the fifth, for those keeping count – if she does her Yurchenko double pike vault during worlds. She already has two skills named after her on floor exercise, and one each on balance beam and vault.
The U.S. women, meanwhile, have won the team title at every world championships going back to 2011. That’s six in a row, which ties them with China’s men (2003 to 2014) for the longest consecutive streak at worlds.
What did Simone Biles say about winning a record eighth US championship?
"I've been doing it for so long, I feel like I don't think about numbers. I think about my performance," Simone Biles said on NBC when asked about her record-breaking title. "I think overall, I hit 8 for 8 (clean events). So eight, I guess it's a lucky number this year."
After her first day of competition Friday, Biles was asked on NBC what drives her at this point in her career, and she said she still has personal goals she wants to achieve. On Sunday, she was asked to specify those goals.
"I like to keep them personal, just so that I know what I'm aiming for. I think it's better that way," Biles told the network. "I'm trying to move a little bit differently this year than I have in the past. I think it's working so far, so I'm going to keep it a little bit secretive."
But could she say if competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics is one of them?
"Not yet," Biles added.
Simone Biles' championship feeling
Simone Biles didn’t really get serious about training until this spring. Yet, just two meets in, she’s as good as she’s ever been. Asked how that feels, Biles said she’s happy with how things are progressing because there were times she wasn’t sure if she’d be back competing.
Anything else she’s feeling?
“Hungry,” she said emphatically. “I’m so starving right now.”
Simone Biles' new Athleta GIRL collection has empowering message
Simone Biles’ latest Athleta GIRL collection, geared toward girls ages 6 to 12, features the tagline, "Because I can." That was Biles’ response when she was asked two years ago why she was continuing to do difficult tricks even when international gymnastics officials refused to give them their full credit.
"It’s that little Simone on their shoulder, or that little reminder to have confidence, keep going and never give up," Biles told USA TODAY Sports. "It helps them just put that first step forward and then keep pushing throughout the entire school year."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Simone Biles qualifies for US gymnastics worlds team at selection camp