Biles captures first AT&T American Cup crown
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By Jo-Ann Barnas – Special to USA Gymnastics
ARLINGTON, Texas – She made it look effortless, easy in a way. But to do what she does, you know it isn’t.
That’s the beauty of Simone Biles, the two-time defending women’s world champion, who won her first AT&T American Cup title on Saturday.
Competing in a major international meet in her home state for the first time, Biles, who’s from Spring, won with a runaway score of 62.299 – 4.467 points ahead of USA teammate MyKayala Skinner (57.832).
It was largest margin of victory in history of the American Cup. If Biles was a football team – the competition was held at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, after all – she would have won by three touchdowns.
Yes. She was that dominating, winning every single event.
Erika Fasana of Italy was third with an all-around score of 56.633.
“I don’t know how I make it look easy,” Biles, 17, said with a giggle. “Sometimes I feel like I’m struggling, but I’m really not.”
Biles made her mark early with a sky-high Amanar on vault. She stuck the landing like a lawn dart.
Her score of 16.033 drew oohs and aahs from the crowd of 10,383. In attendance was an estimated 150 to 160 supporters – all family and friends of the two-time U.S. champion, according to her father, Ron Biles.
“They came in from all over – Cleveland, Phoenix, Maryland, Oklahoma,” he said.
“And California,” his wife, Nellie Biles, said with a smile.
Nellie Biles must have had a feeling that her daughter was going to have a special day. As large as the 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium is, somehow their eyes found each other before the event began. Nellie blew her daughter a kiss. They also texted and Tweeted at each other, Nellie Biles said.
Aimee Boorman, Biles’ longtime coach, said before the event that she didn’t believe competing in front of so many family and friends would unnerve her. Turns out, she was right.
“That kind of stuff doesn’t make her stressed,” Boorman said.
Her eyelids glistening with sparkles, Biles hardly seemed to break a sweat Saturday.
After vault, Biles’ continued her domination, next scoring a 15.200 on uneven bars. On balance beam, she had a slight wobble on the landing of her switch half leap but still scored above a 15 (15.066). She was so far ahead of the nine-woman field that she kept the theme intact on floor exercise, finishing slightly ahead of the music on her finishing pose. Her score: 16.000).
“It’s a little rough competing against her because she has such big skills,” Skinner said. “It makes me work harder.”
Skinner’s vault – a Yurchenko double full – produced the second-best score of the day on that event (15.100). Her other scores: 14.266 on uneven bars; 13.533 on beam, and 14.933 on floor exercise.
After the competition, Sam Mikulak, sitting a few feet away from Biles, smiled at the swarm of reporters that engulfed the 4-foot-8 inch gymnast. Asked what makes Biles so good – especially this early in the season – Mikulak didn’t hesitate to answer.
“She makes hard gymnastics look easy – that’s what great gymnasts do,” he said. “Simone, I think, is the best gymnast of her era.”