Simone Biles opens US gymnastics championship with soaring display!

Fort Worth, Texas - Simone Biles continued her march toward the Paris Olympics Friday, launching her US gymnastics championships campaign with a dominant day-one display that included signature vault and floor skills.

Simone Biles took top spot in the US gymnastics championship after a first night full of sensational performances.
Simone Biles took top spot in the US gymnastics championship after a first night full of sensational performances.  © ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The four-time Olympic gold medal winner launched her night in Fort Worth, Texas, with a scintillating performance of her Yurchenko double pike vault.

She soared through her trademark vault, now also known as the Biles II, and despite a big step back with one foot on landing, she earned 15.800 for a vault so difficult no other woman has attempted it in competition.

Biles capped her night with an impressive floor routine that included a triple-twisting double somersault on her first tumbling pass on the way to a score of 15.20.

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On all four apparatuses, she improved on her scores from the Core Hydration Classic two weeks ago and built a leading all-around score of 60.450 going into Sunday's final night of competition.

Skye Blakely was in second place on 57.050. Blakely was the only other gymnast to hit 15 points, scoring 15.0 on her vault.

Kayla DiCello was in third on 56.850 points.

Biles on track to book tickets for Paris Olympics

Biles is aiming for a ninth US all-around title and secure a place in the US Olympics trials at the end of June.
Biles is aiming for a ninth US all-around title and secure a place in the US Olympics trials at the end of June.  © ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Biles is chasing a ninth US all-around title, but this year the championships take on added significance as the last meeting at which to secure a berth at the US Olympic trials, June 27-30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Shilese Jones, a two-time all-around medalist at the world championships, withdrew from the championships on Friday after an old shoulder injury flared up, but said she would petition USA Gymnastics to compete at trials and have a shot to make the five-woman team for Paris.

In the meantime, all eyes are on Biles.

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"Well, she broke 60, so that was a goal of hers," said coach Cecile Landi, who said she was pleased not just with Biles's routines but with her attitude.

"It's not even the skills, it's the attitude and her behavior," said Landi, who coaches alongside husband Laurent Landi. "I truly feel like she's happy to be here."

"I think she's really enjoying it and appreciating every meet she gets to do."

Reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee was in fourth place on 55.750. Lee, who is battling back from kidney disease, is competing in her first all-around competition in more than a year.

Cover photo: ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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