Goodman Community Center | Suter’s Gold Medal Sports continues to…

Suter’s Gold Medal Sports continues to assist Madison-area skaters

Suter’s Gold Medal Sports has been selling hockey equipment and sharpening skates for 43 years.

December 5, 2023 |
Mary Suter and her dog Ollie stand in front of Suter's Gold Medal Sports at 605B North Sherman Avenue.
Mary Suter and Ollie greet customers seeking ice skates and hockey gear at Suter’s Gold Medal Sports.

By Jeff Randall, Eastside News

Behind the Hartmeyer Ice Arena and beyond, a shopping plaza on Commercial and Sherman avenues that holds Suter’s Gold Medal Sports. It’s both a piece of history and an institution that continues to sell ice skates and hockey equipment.

Just after winning Olympic Gold as part of the 1980 USA ice hockey team, East High and UW-Madison legend Bob Suter established the shop. While the store has moved a few doors down, 43 years later it still provides for generations of skaters.

For the last 23 years the shop has been managed and run by Bob Suter’s second wife, Mary. She moved to Madison for work, and her boys found a community through hockey. That community led to interacting with his three sons and then Bob Suter himself. Sadly, Bob Suter died of a heart attack nearly a decade ago while at Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, which he operated and managed.

Stepping into Suter’s Gold Medal Sports is a bit like stepping into a general store or a friend’s well-stocked home. Customers are greeted at the door by Mary Suter’s lovable Australian sheep dog Ollie, and Mary Suter is typically in conversation while sharpening skates ($7 a pair) behind the large grinding machine that sits like an espresso machine at a coffee bar. While she’s sharpening, a small TV drones on in the background, a young person may be sitting having skates molded to his or her feet and another is sizing up a stick. Mary Suter is at once head chef, maître ‘d and waitstaff all in one — hopping from task to task with a smile, navigating the serpentine, well-stocked store’s rather small footprint.

Watching the hockey environment change

Growing up in Minnesota, Mary Suter skated and played pond hockey — organized girls’ sports were not always an option. Now she is sizing young girls for hockey skates. When her second husband was playing for the University of Wisconsin, there was no women’s team. Now the Badgers are reigning national champions for Division I women’s hockey and are also the winningest women’s program in the nation.

When Mary Suter started at Suter’s Gold Medal Sports there were eight hockey stores in Madison. Now her shop is but one of two such stores — and business has never been better. It keeps her working seven days a week, with rare vacations. Mary Suter surmises that with more year-round hocky competitions, the sport is less seasonal. While purchasing online has become ever more routine in the past 23 years, a proper fit and fair price (she sells used equipment as well) brings families back.

Friends of her blended family are now bringing their kids — both boys and girls — into the shop to start their hockey journeys, she noted.

Mary Suter said her husband’s passing at the ice arena he managed “was awful (and) shocking.” And yet hockey — and later the store — have become a community that sustains her, which, in turn, sustains a community hoping to pursue some memorable moments on the ice.

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