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Simone Biles Somehow Looks Even Better

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles competes in the balance beam event during the Core Hydration Classic at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 18, 2024.
Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

I really did intend to write something other than Oh dear Lord, Simone Biles is back and looking so good already, I can't believe it. I wanted to tell you that Shilese Jones is (barring injury; knock on the surface of your choosing) a lock to make this summer's Olympic team, a surprising sentence to type given the depth of the field, with her uneven bars routine that unfolds like a beautiful, floaty dream. I expected to write about Suni Lee getting back on beam. I might've warned you not to count out Jordan Chiles and Jade Carey, either. But Biles is back, and she brought with her the triple-double (aka the Biles II; not to be confused with the bouncing-ball sport accomplishment), the Yurchenko double pike (another Biles II), and even Taylor Swift (no, that's not the name of a gymnastic skill).

Biles competed alongside and against a lot of recognizable names at the U.S. Classic this weekend in Hartford, Conn. The Classic itself isn't the most important competition. It functions more like a warm-up or a preview for the bigger meets to come: the national championship, then Olympic Trials, and finally the Paris Olympics in July. Biles dominated the event, finishing with the highest score on floor, the second-highest on beam, and second-highest on uneven bars. That plus her YDP vault, the highest scoring single vault of the meet, was more than enough to win the event overall.

NBC posted a video compilation of Biles on all four events but, if you want to gasp, fast-forward to the 2:32 mark, when Biles takes the floor.

Biles's floor routine starts with the opening of Swift's song "Ready For It?" off Reputation. I will leave it to the Swifties among us to infer what this means within Swiftian lore while noting that, from a gymnastics standpoint, the meaning is right there in the performance. As the bass pounded and the synth snarled, Biles unleashed her iconic Biles II—aka the triple-double, three twists plus two turns, a skill she hasn't competed since the Tokyo Olympics—and spun and flipped with so much height that it seemed like she could have sneaked another rotation in before the landing. Biles landed, smiled, and kept going. Message sent and received.

She also landed her history-making (and code-of-points-scrambling) YDP vault, without using her coach Laurent Landi as a spotter like last year. How good does Biles feel in the vault? Her other coach, Cecile Landi, told the Wall Street Journal: "She’s been doing it without him for a while now, and she just feels ready. Honestly, she was ready last year, I think Laurent was not ready last year. I think he needed to see her do it like she’s done it."

Biles's closest competition might be the aforementioned Shilese Jones. Check out Jones on the uneven bars, her strongest apparatus, where she earned a whopping 15.25. (For comparison, Biles earned a 14.55 on bars at the meet.) Jones posted scores that put her second behind Biles on all-around, floor, and vault, which is pretty similar how it felt watching U.S. competition last year: Biles in the lead, and Jones right behind. The U.S. is looking pretty scary for Paris.

Biles wasn't perfect, and she talked with NBC afterward about getting back to competing. In such a taxing and exact sport, nothing is guaranteed, and Biles knows it. But she's about as poised as anyone can be for another historic Olympic run.

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