Cole Pates’ indoor skatepark offers lessons, night activities for youth
GYPSUM — Cole Pates is young and ambitious, and those are two qualities he will need this summer since he’ll be working six days per week.
In June, the 18-year-old lifelong resident of Eagle County opened CJ’s Skate Shop, an indoor skate park, skate shop and youth hangout spot on McGregor Drive near the airport in Gypsum. Now the lesson requests are starting to fill up, and he’s looking at a full schedule with a tough task at hand — teaching the next generation one of the most difficult sports they will likely be exposed to here in the Eagle River Valley, skateboarding.
“The basic tricks aren’t actually as hard as they look when you have a good, safe training environment,” Pates said with a gesture toward his skatepark.
Moments before, Pates performed a simple trick, an ollie, to jump his board from the blacktop of his parking lot, onto the concrete curb and into his skate shop. It’s a utilitarian move, one that could be used on a college campus en route to class or a city street on a sandwich run during a lunch break. Seeing Pates perform it with ease, moving the board around effortlessly underneath his feet, one can see his attraction to the sport in the first place. Unlike a bike, the classic skateboard is small and worry free. It doesn’t lock up, it straps to your backpack and comes with you. Yet it can be just as fast and useful for transporting yourself around in urban settings — as long as you can ollie up that curb, and bring yourself to a stop — two tricks Pates will teach you with a few lessons.
“We provide the equipment, the instruction and the safe training ground right here, so people can learn the moves without hurting themselves,” Pates said. “And we’re not restricted by daylight.”
Coal Pates’ goal is to keep CJ’s filled with people into the evenings with date nights, night skate sessions and birthday parties by request. Lessons will take place in afternoon and evening sessions, and the skate shop itself will hold regular hours Tuesday though Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
CJ’s is one of several businesses to open in the area, with a Domino’s opening nearby, as well as gardening and consignment shops.
Cole Pates will be operating the shop this summer before heading off to CU to study film in the fall, his brother Jake Pates, an up-and-coming pro snowboarder with a busy travel schedule, will make periodic stops to help with lessons and clinics. Parents Chris and Amy Pates are happy to see Cole contributing to the revitalization of the area, as well as learning a few things he won’t be able to get from school over the next few years.
“Cole is a hard working kid, and we were glad to see this summer that he will be learning the lessons of operating a business, rather than finding another summer job, which there are plenty of for kids like him here in the valley,” Chris Pates said. “Communication, one-on-one interactions with customers and vendors, it’s all stuff that will be very beneficial to him in the next phase of his life.”
For Cole Pates, there are a few other lessons he can take with him, as well. A talented freeskier who has competed in countless competitions throughout his youth, hosting competitive events of his own at his skate park this summer will give him a taste of the organizational aspect of the sport.
“Skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, they’re all so closely tied together these days, and I know those industries as where I want to direct my focus,” he said. “So this summer I’m just hoping to work a lot and learning a lot about this business and organizational side of these sports.”
CJ’s first skate competition will be July 25, with day-of signup starting at 9 a.m.
“If you don’t want to compete, you can still come check it out and be a part of it,” Cole said. “We’re planning on having a lot of fun.”