STUTTGART, Germany -- Four Olympic gold medals and 14 world titles later, Simone Biles is also now a two-time world cup champion. The 22-year-old won the all-around title Saturday in her first appearance on the world cup circuit in four years in Stuttgart, Germany, and in true Biles fashion, it wasn’t even close.
The reigning world all-around champion watered down her trademark difficulty for the DTB Pokal World Cup, her first meet of the year, but though she opted not to show some of her signature skills, including the uber-difficult new vault that was named for her last year, it didn’t stop her from wowing the packed-house Porsche Arena crowd with a display of her high-flying style of gymnastics.
Despite a twist less here and there on floor and uneven bars, she tallied an impressive 58.8 points, 3.5 points higher than world medalist Ana Padurariu of Canada, who danced and tumbled her way to 55.132. Germany’s Elisabeth Seitz thrilled the home crowd inside for third with 54.399.
While Biles and coach Laurent Landi both admitted that she wasn’t at full strength this early in the season, Biles was nevertheless impressive, vaulting an easy-for-her Cheng for 15.4 points and a full-point lead after the first of four rotations. She added 14.3 on the uneven bars, hitting a routine she struggled with in practice. Though she rushed a turn on balance beam, she stayed on and regained her composure for 14.2.
“I think it’s more of a stress thing,” Biles said of the small mistakes. “I stress myself out really bad and then I get really bad anxiety and then I have to tell myself, ‘It’s fine, just to take things skill by skill,’ and that really helped me.”
She closed out the day as the final competitor on floor exercise with a 14.9, putting on a show with the floor routine that earned her the world title in October in Doha, Qatar, despite competing with a kidney stone she’d nicknamed the Doha Pearl.
As the only U.S. woman competing in Stuttgart, Biles said that she missed the team camaraderie that comes with traveling with a group of her peers.
“It was kind of weird not having the girls by my side in the squad with me,” she said. “I miss them a lot. But I got through today, so hopefully if I have to go to another world cup I know I can get through.”
Biles competed at the 2013 and 2015 American Cup competitions, where she was second and first, but this marked her first world cup hosted outside the U.S.
Biles was selected for the Stuttgart World Cup partially to allow her to scope the venue where the FIG World Championships will be held this fall. She hasn’t set goals for the competition yet, though foremost in her mind is helping the U.S. defend its team title, she said. New things are on the way for her individually as well, including a new floor exercise.
“I need to put back in difficulty,” she said, “but so far, I’m pretty pleased.”