But these kinds of accidents are actually kinda rare. Most of us are aware of each other enough to know when someone's close by and we avert or abort accordingly. And most of us follow the spoken and unspoken rules of practice ice in order to work better, get the most out of our ice, and prevent these kinds of horrific accidents.
Most of us.
Here are some basic Rules of Practice Ice:
No Music and no Jumps/Spins on MITF Ice.
Yes, there is dedicated Moves Ice, and you can't jump on it or do your program on it. Because MITF, that's why. If there are people on a Power 3 pattern, and you're thinking you're gonna Lutz, you're going to interrupt the traffic pattern. That's rude, because there is a lot more Freestyle Ice than MITF ice. Worst is when someone needs to go Clockwise, as in the Perimeter Stroking on APB Moves. Jumps and Spins are not in MITF tests, so if you're doing them on a MITF session, you are clearly in the wrong.
NO DANCE on Freestyle Sessions.
Oh lordy this gets my gourd. I've nearly been clotheslined by Ice Dancers literally screaming at me as they head into me full tilt because I had the audacity to be "in their pattern" when practicing jumps in the corner, like I'm supposed to do on Freestyle ice. Is there an Ice Dance Pattern called "The Jerk?"
Conversely, NO FREESTYLE on Dance Sessions
Now people are supposed to be in a pattern, so jumping around like a maniac will interrupt them. Spinning in the center will also somehow interrupt them. So if you're allowed on a Dance Session and you're not an Ice Dancer, just stick to turning and footwork drills and MITF, people in a pattern get the right of way, and you're fine. Or you could be a Jerk like they are and Jump around like a maniac anyway, but we're nice and we won't do that. (Plus you have to listen to their music and that's just awful.)
Here's a big one that is always overlooked: LOWER LEVEL SKATERS GET THE RIGHT OF WAY.
Did you get that one? Let's say that one again: LOWER LEVEL SKATERS GET THE RIGHT OF WAY.
It's the same as Pedestrians getting the right of way. They cannot dodge as fast, simple as that. But look out onto some Freestyle sessions and you see lower level skaters getting bullied by higher level people and ice dancers who just bulldoze their way around without a care in the world. Because they think that as better skaters, they can. Well, by skating like that, they aren't allowing anyone else to get better.
To allow everyone to skate effectively, Practice Ice is broken down into High and Low ice. You have to pass a given level to be allowed on High Level Practice Ice, because if you can't skate that fast you're a hazard. You also have to pass a certain level to be allowed on Low Freestyle Ice, because of that whole "slow and erratic people are a hazard" thing again. Pre-Freestyle Ice is for Pre-Freestyle people. Simple as that. It's a totally safe, slow as molasses ice, which is what it needs to be for beginners.
But what usually happens is that High Freestyle people see ice, and decide that they must skate on it no matter the level, and bowl over little kids doing FI3's with their double loops. Because they can.
People in a Lesson get the Right of Way
If someone's working with a Coach, they're trying to listen and take in correction, or being moved and manipulated and can't adjust for you. So you give those people a wide berth. Or you're supposed to. Again, I've had skaters just plow through my lesson like we weren't there at all. Or come up and try to start a conversation with the coach, because it's their coach and I'm just an Adult skater...
This is also why coaching from the Boards is so awful. A skater continually trucking back and forth to the boards is forced to interrupt the patterns of other skaters, just to get back to the coach and get correction on something that happened whenever ago. Worse, when they do some patchy little move in front of the boards for the coach, they are then in everyone's way. So, as a skater, you have to stop what you're doing for them. A moving coach/skater team is a more effective working team for everyone on the ice.
NO KIDS on Adult Ice.
Adults, the biggest sore thumbs of the rink, have a hard time finding time and Ice upon which to practice. Practice, of course, would make them better skaters, but finding that safe (physically and mentally) ice is super hard. Once there is some Adults Only Practice Ice, the kids see some slow ice and decide to just bolt on and bowl over someone learning Mohawks or working on Adult MITF. Because they can.
Nope, sorry. Get off. Begone. There is loads of Kid Friendly Practice Ice year round, while our treasured Adult Sessions are only in Summer. And please do not try to tell me that your 16YO is "almost an adult." She's not. And do not say that your 6YO learning an Axel "won't take up much space." She will. Do not say that "It's just for the last half hour." Give them the last half hour and pretty soon you've got an infestation. Over 20 only. Full Stop.
People working on Lifts get Right of Way
Okay, I don't know if this is a rule, but it should be. If I'm being picked up, I DO NOT wany anyone near me. At all. I simply don't have brainspace left to deal with any variables like another skater coming at me when I'm trying to find my balance out of a lift. And I don't want my partner dealing with it, either. He shouldn't have to dodge while carting me around.
There are a lot of other Rules of the Road on Practice Ice, available from the Ice Monitor or Rink Management, but these are the big ones to follow. Be aware, be kind, be courteous. Accidents do happen, as they will in any sport, but they should be rare. If they're happening with alarming frequency, someone's not following the rules.
Take comfort in the fact that you can always become a better skater, but a jerk will always be a jerk. And the kid who is oblivious to other skaters also has a habit of being oblivious to the boards.