Andy Murray

Scotland could have its own team at Rio 2016 Olympics

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Imagine if Andy Murray won Olympic gold at Wimbledon last year … for Scotland.

Scotland could vote for its independence next September. If it does, it will take steps to establish its own Olympic team for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“We’re comfortable and assured Scotland will have its own Olympic and Paralympic team. It will bring many benefits,” Scotland sports minister Shona Robison told the BBC.

Scottish athletes helped Great Britain to fourth place in the overall medal standings at the 2012 Olympics, winning around 18 percent of Team GB’s medals, according to The Associated Press.

The Guardian reported that support among voters for independence is as low as 35 percent, but that 40 to 50 percent of voters could be undecided or willing to switch sides.

The most high-profile Scottish Olympians were Murray, track cyclist Chris Hoy (now retired) and swimmer Michael Jamieson. Hoy won seven medals over four Olympics — six gold — making him the most decorated British Olympian of all time.

Murray is the No. 3 ranked men’s singles tennis player in the world. The next highest British player is No. 152.

Keep in mind golf, which returns to the Olympics in 2016, originated in Scotland. There are no Scottish men’s golfers in the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking, so having a separate Scottish team could open up spots for the likes of Martin Laird and Richie Ramsay. Team GB could also lose World No. 4 Rory McIlroy, who may compete for Ireland. McIlroy is from Northern Ireland.

The top-ranked British women’s golfer is Scottish. That’s No. 10 Catriona Matthew, 44, winner of the 2009 British Open. Britain otherwise has only one woman in the top 100.

Robison said Scotland meets the criteria for Scotland to be an Olympic nation: being an independent state recognized by the international community, having a solid sports structure and at least five national federations affiliated to international federations of Olympic sports.

Scotland to host Duel in the Pool in December

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career