Biles leads US to Pacific Rim Gymnastics title
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) Simone Biles began her preparations for the Rio Olympics in dominant fashion Saturday night in the Pacific Rim Championships, winning the all-around title to lead the U.S. women to the team title.
The 19-year-old Biles, the three-time world all-around champion, finished first in the vault, balance beam and floor routine, and third in the uneven bars to win the all-around title with 62.45 points in her season debut. Aly Raisman, a three-time medalist at the 2012 Olympics who struggled last year in the world championships, finished second at 59.90.
The U.S. swept the top five spots. Fifteen-year-old Laurie Hernandez was third, followed by Brenna Dowell and Ragan Smith.
The U.S. won all four events en route to a team score of 243.200. Canada was second at 219.100, followed by Australia at 217.850.
Biles was pleased with the floor routine, which drew a tremendous response from the crowd.
''I felt like it was pretty good,'' Biles said. ''I'll go back and look at the video to see, but there's still things to improve in the floor routine definitely, but you have to start somewhere and it's good that I still have things to improve.''
She also was satisfied with her second vault, called the Cheng after three-time world champion Cheng Fei of China.
The vault, which Biles said she has performed well in practice, requires her to do a round off onto the board, followed by a back handspring with a half-twist onto the vault before finishing with 1 1/2 twists while simultaneously doing a layout.
''That was the first time I ever competed it, so it was good to get that out of the way,'' Biles said. ''For the first time competing it, I'm fairly happy with it.''
National team coordinator Martha Karolyi was pleased with Biles' efforts, as well as those of the entire team.
''For her, it was very important to see if she's able to perform her second vault,'' Karolyi said. ''That was really one of our goals, even before the World Championships. We planned on this and it was important to debut and do it.
''For anybody, it is a challenge to add a high difficulty new skill,'' Karolyi added. ''Also, she had new choreography on the floor. All these competitions are very important for us to make sure we introduce this new stuff early, so with time it comes with much more confidence and is more normal. The first time you maybe have a little jitters to make sure you will be able to perform, but she passed the test.''
Karolyi also was pleased with the performance of Raisman, who took almost two years off following the London Olympics.
''After the world championships, she looked too hyper and a little bit out of control, which was unusual for her,'' Karolyi said. ''Our main goal was to calm her down and I think we achieved the goal. She looked very composed and very much in control of what she's doing.''
''Now, we have to go for things to perfect and we are in a good place,'' Karolyi said. ''I think she's absolutely on the right track.''