My left leg gave out on me and I came down hard. A coach yelled from clear down the other end of the ice, "Are you alright?!" I hadn't planned to tell the story of my spectacular fall, but then I was over at On Thin Ice and he was describing a recent fall. I started thinking about how people react when they see a skater bite it.
Kids fall all the time and unless there are tears or blood, mostly they're ignored. Experienced skaters fall all the time and they typically pop back up before anyone has a chance to say anything. When adults fall, noisy rinks become silent, crowds surround the poor victim, "did-you-hit-your-head" is asked so many times it begins to sound like one word. In my case, a coach actually yelled clear across the rink. A fall that probably could've gone unnoticed was suddenly the focal point of everyone on the ice, all the parents watching their kids' lessons, the guy at the skate rental counter and probably the hockey camp kids in the NHL rink.
I'm a very low-level skater, so when I fall on the ice it's really no different than if I trip and fall on the sidewalk. It's typically unexpected, it hurts a bit and I'm shaky when I get back on my feet. If I fall on the sidewalk, I get up and keep walking. If I fall on the ice, I get up and keep skating. Both situations are mildly embarrassing, nothing more. When I fall on the sidewalk, rarely does anyone say anything. Apparently, it's much more compelling when I fall on the ice.
I assured the coach that I was fine. Silently, I thought my biggest concern wasn't my aching back or the slight pain in my neck. I was hoping I could get back on my feet with some degree of gracefulness now that I had an audience. Get up, keep skating. Nothing to see here.