Reigning World all-around champion Simone Biles paced the U.S. to the early lead in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying in Nanning, China, on Sunday.
Biles, Olympic team champion Kyla Ross and World Championships rookies MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann, Madison Kocian and Ashton Locklear combined for 235.038 points, a whopping 6.903 points better than Russia totaled earlier Sunday.
Russia won the team event at the 2010 World Championships and finished second to the U.S. in 2011 and at the 2012 Olympics. There was no team event at the 2013 World Championships.
Biles, looking to become the first woman to win back-to-back World all-around titles since Svetlana Khorkina in 2001 and 2003, posted 59.599 points to take the individual all-around qualifying lead. Biles had the top provisional scores on vault, balance beam and floor exercise but struggled on her weak event, uneven bars (scoring 13.3).
“It went OK,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I’m really disappointed with bars, but other than that I was pretty happy.”
She’s safely into the all-around final Friday, along with Ross, who came from behind Skinner on the last apparatus, uneven bars, to lock up the second and final U.S. spot with 57.941 points. Ross suffered a hip injury before Worlds and has trained and competed with her thigh and hip taped. She said she wasn’t sure last week she would be able to perform her standard vault given the injury.
“Ever since podium [training], my hamstring and my hip has been getting better,” Ross said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I was happy to be able to have a little bit more power.”
Russian Olympic and World all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina scored 58.874 points earlier Sunday to make the all-around final.
Team medal contenders China, Great Britain and Romania go through qualifying Monday.
1. USA — 235.038
2. Russia — 228.135
1. Simone Biles (USA) — 59.599
2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 58.874
3. Kyla Ross (USA) — 57.941
The U.S. women in position to qualify for individual event finals (top eight, maximum two per country) with one day of qualifying to go:
1. Simone Biles — 15.45 (Biles is the 2013 World silver medalist on vault)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 15.349
1. Ashton Locklear — 15.233
4. Kyla Ross — 14.65 (2013 World silver medalist)
1. Simone Biles — 15.133 (2013 World bronze medalist)
3. Kyla Ross — 14.391 (2013 World silver medalist)
1. Simone Biles — 15.366 (2013 World champion)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 14.7