Everything is different and everything is the same for Simone Biles as she heads into the 2015 AT&T American Cup. The most prestigious international invitational held in the United States will be at the AT&T Stadium (the Dallas Cowboys football stadium) in Arlington, Texas on March 7. Biles and MyKayla Skinner are the two women representing the USA in the competition.
In 2013, Biles competed in this prestigious competition as an unproven senior. Though people knew she had potential, she was far from being a sure thing in the world of gymnastics. In a small, cozy arena in Worcester, Mass, Biles won silver to her American teammate, Katelyn Ohashi. Fast forward two years: a new outlook on her gymnastics, a new training center, and multiple world championship titles behind her, Biles is coming into 2015 not only as the favorite for the American Cup, but as the gymnast to beat.
Everything is different.
“I’m approaching this competition by knowing what I’m capable of doing, knowing what I’ve done in the past. I want to come out with a really strong start to the year” said Biles at a pre-meet phone conference. “I have actually not competed in anything close to as big as this stadium is. I went there earlier this year for a promotion… I think we’re gonna look like ants down there because the stadium is so big, but I guess you need a big stadium for big gymnastics… I watched the board more than the players. It was huge! I don’t know how it’s gonna to turn out, but I’m excited to see it. ”
After her shenanigan’s with the bee at the 2014 World Championships, Biles must have insects on the brain. Her thought that they will look like ants in such a huge stadium is probably right. But no one will bring bigger gymnastics than Biles. Already touting the most difficulty in women’s gymnastics, Biles plans to bring in two more upgrades to the AT&T American Cup. She has added a release combination- a piked Tkatchev into pak on bars, and will be adding yet another twist on floor, upgrading one of her floor passes to a double layout full-out. Check out her latest work:
Competing near home is also something new. “I’m really excited to compete because I know a lot of my friends and family are going to come. They haven’t seen me compete since one of my first years in elite. There are a lot of people coming out to see me and I’m really excited for them to see me.” Biles, who makes friends everywhere she goes, is also excited to see Jessica Lopez of Venezuela, who she connected with earlier in the year at the Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular.
Everything is the same.
And yet, the At&T American Cup is just another competition. “I’ve had competitions where we go one at a time, so I’m kinda used to it,” she said about the format of the competition. She is also used to televised events: “Sometimes they put us on hold…” When all is said and done, she has been training towards this in the same way she has gone into every other competition. “We just want to do what we’ve always done. After Worlds we did dial down a bit and tried to work new skills and plan out routines, but then we started gearing back up with American Cup coming up. It’s been the same…nothing’s really changed.”
Currently focused on hitting her routines at the American Cup, later this year Biles will turn her attention to more upgrades and making the World Championship team. Biles said her goals for the year are “Adding more upgrades for Classics and P&Gs, and then try to make the Worlds team again and at the end of the year I’ll start over again and see what happens.”
In the world of gymnastics, it is impossible to look at one competition on it’s own. How it fits in to the ever present Olympic question is always a part of the equation. But Biles, like many other elite gymnasts, tries to stay focused on the here and now. “I try not think about 2016 yet, I’m going into this year as I have any other year, trying to do what I always do. I just try not to think about it. We have this whole year to think about it. We have to live in the moment, and thinking of next year kindof scares me, so if anyone brings up the Olympics, it’s not me.”
Biles has been unbeatable for the past two years, winning even with falls and mistakes. Many wonder if any gymnast can ever challenge her as long as she stays in the sport. Two people that have yet to try are returning Olympic veterans Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. But to Biles, who always focuses so much more on how she loves her teammates than on how they might turn out in the ranks, its the more the merrier. “[Gabby and Aly] look really good, really healthy. I am just so excited for them. I know how bad they want to compete, and I know how it feels to be out for a while, after being out last year for a little while, so I am really excited for them. The look really good.”
Don’t miss Biles and any of the action at the AT&T American Cup. Watch podium training live on March 5 (Women – 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET and Men – 2:30-4:30 p.m. ET) and catch the first 90 minutes of competition on March 7 at 11:30 a.m. on attamericancup.com/live and then the rest of the competion from 1-3 p.m. ET Live on NBC (check local listings).