She was back, she stumbled, and then it was like she had never even left. Reigning Rio 2016 Olympic all-around gold medalist and four-time US national champion Simone Biles soared back onto her rightful place on top of the podium, recovering from an uncharacteristic uneven bars fall to fight back to win the GK US Classic in her comeback meet.
“After bars I was like I’m done, I’m not competing beam. But I thought I should just do it anyway, I’m here for a reason, I might as well have fun with it,” explained Biles after the competition.
With swaths of adoring fans packing Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus to see the historic moment the most decorated American gymnast of all time stepped back onto a competition floor, Biles did not disappoint, showing upgrades galore as “Simone 2.0” made her debut.
Biles showed her fighting spirit and champion’s mentality to comeback from second place going into the final rotation to overcome Riley McCusker and win the US Classic senior all-around title with a massive 58.700 overall, more than a point over second place McCusker. MG Elite’s McCusker took the silver medal with a 57.500 off a brilliant and consistent performance while reigning World all-around champion Morgan Hurd finished third with a very strong 56.350.
Beginning her comeback competition on the floor exercise, Biles forced thousands of “oohs” and “ahhs” from adoring fans on her sky-high tumbling and engaging, energetic dance, debuting a brand new Moors or laid out double-double as her opening pass to score a very impressive 14.750. On vault Biles only did her Cheng vault, but she soared with massive power for a staggering 15.200.
The uneven bars, traditionally Biles’ weakest event, saw some nerves and rust from the four-time Olympic gold medalist, falling after a close catch on her straddled Tkatchev and a short handstand, but finishing strong- including an incredible Fabrichnova or tucked double-double dismount- to score a 13.350. With her back against the wall and a brilliant performance from Riley McCusker to overcome, Biles showed exactly why many consider her the greatest gymnast of all-time, going lights out on every skill in her balance beam routine to put up a massive 15.200 score and soar back atop the US Classic podium.
It was no doubt tough opposition Biles was against, having to fend off an incredibly impressive and consistent all-around performance from Riley McCusker, which featured massive uneven bars and balance beam scores of 15.000 and 14.550 for first and second on those events, respectively. McCusker, who is also on a comeback after missing most of the last year due to injury, did all she could to nearly beat Biles but even a very solid 13.600 for fourth on floor exercise wasn’t enough to upset the current queen of gymnastics.
Reigning World all-around champion Morgan Hurd didn’t disappoint either, fighting back after a tough balance beam fall to finish third all-around from impressive uneven bars and floor exercise performances. Hurd capped off her competition with a very clean and confident bars set for a 14.700, good enough for third on the event, and she also showed her powerful side with another third place 13.850 on the floor exercise.
Surprising many for fourth place was Shilese Jones of Future Gymnastics Academy, putting up consistent scores all-around for a fourth place finish while defending US Classic champion 5280’s Alyona Shchennikova took fifth with a very solid 53.900 including a brilliant, very difficult bars routine for second on the apparatus with a big 14.900. WOGA’s Audrey Davis and Sloane Blakely, Naydenov’s Jordan Chiles, Luisa Blanco also of WOGA, and Jade Carey of Arizona Sunrays rounded out the top ten in the all-around.
Biles took the vault title with a 15.400 while Carey finished second and had the highest two-vault average with a 14.650. On the uneven bars, McCusker’s beautiful work and high difficulty reigned supreme for a 15.000 to win the title, while Biles’ clutch 15.200 easily took the balance beam crown. The Olympic great and gymnastics legend also took the floor exercise gold with her 14.750 easily taking first.
The US elite season continues in a few weeks’ time in Boston with the US Championships, where the national champions for both junior and senior elites will be decided.Tags: Alyona Shchennikova, Audrey Davis, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Luisa Blanco, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Shilese Jones, Simone Biles, Sloane Blakely, United States, US Classic