Simone Biles performs on floor at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Oct. 05, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Four Olympic gold medals. Fourteen world titles. Two eponymous skills.
For Simone Biles, what’s a few more?
One year before she goes for more Olympic medals in Tokyo, the 22-year-old gymnastics superstar began her quest to add more world titles on Saturday by performing two new skills during the women’s qualification round at the FIG World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
In the first rotation, Biles ended her first tumbling pass with her high-flying triple-twisting double backflip, also known as the triple-double. And in the final U.S. rotation of the day, Biles dismounted the balance beam with a double-twisting double backflip, also known as a double-double.
Before long, both new skills are expected to have new names: Biles II for the floor move and the Biles for the beam landing.
In the gymnastics code of points, any skill successfully performed for the first time at a major international competition takes on that gymnast’s name. An International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) committee will meet in the coming weeks to determine if Biles performed each skill cleanly enough to assign her name.
Biles — who, in addition to the new skills, also helped Team USA qualify first for the team finals and qualified individually for the all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise finals — already has two skills named for her: the double layout with a half turn on floor exercise, and the roundoff half on, front layout double twist vault.
Not that it’s likely many gymnasts will be doing the new Biles skills in the near future.
Gymnasts are scored based on their execution and difficulty. The difficulty score for a routine is determined by adding up the point values assigned for each element. On the alphabetical scale, elements assigned an “A” value are worth 0.1 point, while “B” are 0.2, and so on.
The FIG announced before the competition that the Biles II on floor would be assigned a difficulty value of “J.” In other words, it’s worth an entire point. Previously the most difficult skills were “I.” The Biles on balance beam, somewhat controversially, was assigned an “H.” Many expected it to be higher, possibly also a “J.”
Biles has been showing both new skills in practice for a while now but performed each one for the first time at the U.S. championships in August. Though other gymnasts, including U.S. teammate Jade Carey and alternate MyKayla Skinner, have shown the triple-double in practice, no one else has performed either skill in an official competition.
Biles will have further opportunities to perform these outrageous skills in the team final on Tuesday, the all-around final Thursday and the individual apparatus finals, which run Friday through Sunday.
Biles has made a career out of performing some of the most difficult gymnastics with the utmost precision. Following a post-Olympic break, Biles returned to competition in 2018, where she reached the podium on all six events at the world championships. Prior to Biles, no U.S. gymnast had accomplished that in her entire career.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009, including the gymnastics national championships and Olympic trials since 2011, on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.