In the Olympics vault final, gymnasts must compete two vaults. Biles scored a 15.900 on her first vault, and a 16.033 on her second, averaging a 15.966. The margin between Simone and Maria Paseka, who won the silver, was more than 0.70. Paseka was awarded a 15.253, and Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland received the bronze for her average score of 15.216.
The first vault Biles competed is called an Amanar and the second is called the Cheng. The former, made famous by McKayla Maroney, is what the 19-year-old performed in the team and individual all-around competitions last week. An Amanar is part of the Yurchenko family, and is recognized as the hardest vault performed by women.
In an Amanar, a gymnast does a round-off onto the springboard and a back handspring onto the vault. She then does a two-and-a-half twisting backwards salto (a salto is another way of saying a flip). The Amanar originally had a D-score (difficulty score) of 6.5, but was downgraded to a 6.3 in 2013. Simone’s second vault, the Cheng, is a round-off with a half-twist onto the vault, and a one-and-a-half twisting layout off of it. The Cheng, named after retired Chinese gymnast, Cheng Fei, carries a D-score of 6.4.
Biles’ Amanar earned her a 15.900 for good reason. She got way more height than any of her competitors, and her form during the twist was flawless. The only issues — which are minor — were that her toes were crossed in the air, and she hopped on her landing. Judges aren’t allowed to deduct for something they can’t see in real-time, though, and it’s likely Biles’ was twisting too fast for them to see her crossed toes. Her second vault is not only extremely difficult, but it requires great form. Since a gymnast’s time in the air is spent in a layout position, those who compete the Cheng must make sure to keep their body perfectly straight and to keep their toes pointed for the entirety of the move. If judges see a bend in the hips, the gymnast will be penalized for it, as that suggests they moved into a pike position. Biles form was impeccable, which is why her score broke a 16. Watch a video of both Biles’ and Cheng Fei performing the Cheng below.
Other successes from the day include female Madison Kocian’s silver on the uneven bars, and male Alex Naddour’s bronze medal on the pommel horse. Biles will be competing in the women’s beam final on Monday, August 15, and the floor final on Tuesday, August 16.