Back-to-back-to-back world all-around champion Simone Biles is meeting with the press via phone conference on March 29 as she prepares to represent the United States at the Pacific Rim Championships in Everett, Washington next week.
We’re live blogging the interview word for word beginning at 1:15 pm ET. Refresh every 3-5 minutes, and most recent updates will appear at the top. Enjoy!
1:53 pm. That’s it! Lots of good little nuggets of info in there. Biggest takeaway is that Simone will debut her Cheng at Pac Rims as well as her new Rio-themed floor routine. And that no matter who tries to stress her out by being like ARE YOU STRESSED ABOUT RIO? the answer is NO. #OneDayAtATime
1:50 pm. Name of floor music? “I don’t know…a little piece is from the movie Rio with like, the birds. One piece is from that. I don’t know what the other half is called but it’s Brazilian-themed.”
1:48 pm. Give us a basic understanding of how a new floor routine comes together? “It’s a collaboration between Martha, our choreographer Dominic Zito, and your coach. Obviously your tumbling stays the same mostly but as for music, you tell Dominic what you like and don’t like. He knows us well, so he knows what we like, so he’ll listen to music, give us three ideas, and it comes together. We see if Martha likes it with the dance, and yeah, that’s how they get put together.”
How does this music make her feel? “It’s fast and upbeat. Hopefully it’ll get the crowd going like the other routines. But it’s more of a Rio feel with the music…some samba…I think it’s exciting.”
1:47 pm. Does gym feel like a job now that school is done? How do you keep it from feeling like work? “I don’t think it’s a job. Whenever we go represent the country it’s an honor but there’s a side where you know you were selected for a reason so you have to get the job done. I just say business trip because we go to do what we’re supposed to, which is gymnastics, but I never see gymnastics as a job. You have a job within gymnastics to represent your country, but it’s still pretty fun.”
1:46 pm. Any opportunity to see the Pacific Northwest? “We fly home right after the meet so we won’t get any time to really look around. It’s a business trip. We focus on what happens in the gym, but we will go to the banquet when it’s over. Gymnastics trips are all about getting your job done.”
1:45 pm. “It was very nice of Ellen to give me the Zac Efron leo but I’m probably not even gonna try putting it on. I think the seams at the top would bust.”
1:44 pm. Next on wish list now that she’s been on Ellen, verified, etc? “Nothing I can think of. Just focusing on gym and what’s to come.”
1:43 pm. “I had nothing to lose and everything to gain in my first worlds. Now I have stuff to lose, there’s a lot more eyes on me, but I don’t focus on the stress everyone puts on me. I’m the only one that can controls what happens when I go out there. I feel more confident in my routines, but there are always days in the gym where it’s a mess and I’m like really? But other days go smoothly and I feel confident. I’m normal. I’m 19. I have emotional problems here and there. But other than that, everything’s good.”
1:42 pm. “It’s hard going from being in top top shape at worlds to the beginning of the year when you’re not THAT ready. This isn’t the time we need to be in tip top shape. We’ll have to wait for trials for that. Mentally I’m better at focusing on each skill and knowing what I need to do to be stronger with each routine. Mentally I’m definitely better.”
“I’ve been healthy. It’s been a very productive period, especially working on that second vault and getting my new floor put together.”
Hit rate on the second vault? “I land it every single time. Just whether my chest is down or not when I land…I know exactly where I am in the air and I would say for this meet, it’s at 50% because it’s still new and I don’t know what it’s like in a competition setting.”
1:41 pm. Aware of audience’s reaction and response, particularly on floor? “Yes, it definitely helps when we land a tumbling pass and the crowd goes crazy. It gets your adrenaline going. We don’t feel like we’re tired, it gives us energy and we feed off of that, especially when they start clapping to your music. It seems more fun. I’m excited to do my new routine in Everett to see how people react.”
1:40 pm. Is preparation different from years past? “I’ve kind of treated it like it’s a worlds year. You have the big goal at the end but you have to focus on everything leading up to prepare you for that time. This year I focus on each competition before they come.”
1:39 pm. “I’ve never been to the Olympics so I don’t know what to expect. It’s better for me, just like at my first worlds. It helped me not overthink anything. My third worlds, I knew what it was like, so I was like oh my goodness, but this is my first Olympics and not knowing what to expect is good for me.”
1:38 pm. “It stresses me out thinking about the Olympics, so why stress yourself out? I just think of what’s next to come. That’s the only thing you can control in that moment. I focus on the moment so I can do the best that I can do in that moment, and then just wait for the rest because anything can happen.”
1:37 pm. “I never take time to think about my accomplishments. I think it’s pretty cool but there’s always that next goal, so once you get one, you just look forward to what’s next and what’s to come and what can I improve on? And you get back in the gym and work.”
1:36 pm. “The 2012 team set the bar high but I’m pretty confident in the US team. Whoever they choose to send will do a very good job at representing the country. It’s exciting to carry that on.”
1:34 pm. Who do you think your biggest competition is? Biggest competition for team in general? “I’m excited about seeing the whole junior and senior national team at camp next week.”
1:33 pm. Is Simone doing the AA at Pac Rims? “Yes, I will compete all-around.”
What was your general strategy overall in skipping American Cup and Jesolo? “The original plan was to rest my body so I can just not rush anything and have competition so soon, and kind of just lay it all out rather than go up-down-up-down. Now it’s just up-down a little bit and then back up this summer. I can now just focus on what I need to focus on, which is better for me.”
Leslie King: “Martha Karolyi determines the athlete assignments, so that was her decision.”
1:32 pm. She’s treating 2016 like every other year. It’s just like going into worlds, being 100% ready when worlds is coming up…it’s just a bit earlier this year. She’s taking each competition at a time and focusing on Trials when they get here.
1:31 pm. Any thought to your life after the Olympics? “Not sure. Obviously college when everything settles down when I have time to focus on school but so far, I don’t know. Just focus on the Olympics. Last year everyone was like what about the Olympics? Now everyone’s like what about after the Olympics?”
1:30 pm. What represents success to you at Pac Rims? “I’m looking to show my new floor routine and also finally compete my second vault in competition so I’m excited to see how those go, and then obviously just consistency and confidence on bars and beam.”
1:28 pm. Longest without competition since she’s been a senior – how do you deal with patience required with waiting? “It hasn’t been too bad. After worlds we got down time so we could focus on skills on all of the events, getting the consistency up, and working on each individual skill before doing routines again. It was good to have time off to focus on the second vault and the new floor routine. Nothing was rushed. It was good getting the time to focus on each part of every event.”
1:27 pm. What have the last five months been like since worlds? “I do have amazing agents so they juggle my schedule for me so I can focus on gymnastics. My sponsors know gym comes first so I always do gym and even if I have to fly out to do something, I’m usually only gone a day and a half, work out before I go, and then when I get back it’s back to normal. Everything’s pretty much the same. We do a good job with juggling everything. I’m always in the gym when I have to be.”
Thoughts about Sophina DeJesus’ routine? What would the reaction be of that routine at an FIG meet? “I don’t know how they’d…I don’t know. I’m pretty sure Martha’s jaw would drop. The judges would have to judge very carefully. I don’t know. Very exciting college routine though.”
1:26 pm. Are the routines at Pac Rims her Olympic routines? New elements she’ll add later? “So far, they’re pretty much the same. On vault, I do have an upgrade of my second vault that I’ll be doing in Everest, and I have a new floor routine, like music and dance…we’ll see if the crowd likes it and that’ll decide whether it’ll go to Rio. Otherwise everything else is the same.”
1:25 pm. Importance of Pac Rims in terms of prep? “Preparation for every comp counts because they kind of log how we do at every meet so they can pick the best Olympic team. It’s my first time competing this year so it’s exciting but stressful. Other than that, we have camp coming up to prepare us and whoever is selected will head out to Washington.”
1:24 pm. “It’s definitely motivation to keep the U.S. going strong but also we have a really great team that we train with to keep us going so I think it’s good that the U.S. has kept it up all these years but we have something big on our shoulders so it’s stressful, but it’s always a blast.”
1:23 pm. Tomorrow is the 100 day countdown to the Olympic Trials in San Jose and they have Mary Lou Retton on hand for celebrations. Does Simone even know who Mary Lou Retton is? “Yes, I used to compete with her daughter McKenna. I didn’t know it was a hundred days out…we just focus on our competitions coming up before that, so that’s what I’m focusing on instead of the Olympics.”
1:22 pm. Leslie King is on the line. “Simone doesn’t need much of an introduction.” TRUTH. She’s set to compete at Pac Rims and has been preparing. Q&A is starting now.
1:21 pm. Simone’s here! Starting in a few seconds.
1:8 pm. Any minute!
1:11 pm. On the call now, should begin in a few minutes! I’m going to type as fast as humanly possible but don’t hate me if I can’t quote things word for word with 100% accuracy. I’ll paraphrase if I can’t get it perfect.
1:00 pm. 15 minutes! A few of you asked questions via Twitter, some of which I’m going to attempt to ask today. I’m sure between myself and everyone else on the call, most of what you want to know will be answered.
Article by Lauren Hopkins