Indoor halfpipe a hot Vail Valley hangout |

Indoor halfpipe a hot Vail Valley hangout

Sarah Mausolf
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail skating: Colin Gitchell, 9, center, practices his rock to fakie move as Chris Pates, left, skate coach and manager of CJ's Board Shop, and fellow student, Josh Brode, 9, right, watch Wednesday during a skateboard class at the skate shop in Gypsum.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-At first glance, CJs Boardshop in Gypsum in Colorado’s Vail Valley, looks like a standard skateboarding boutique.

A full line of skateboards hangs on the wall, while sneakers and hoodies tempt customers from their racks.

The surprise comes when customers step into the back room and discover a 5-foot-tall halfpipe.

The store doubles as the only indoor skating facility in the county ” and it has been one of the hottest kid hangouts in town since it opened April 17.

Unlike outdoor skate parks, the shop boasts adult supervision for children and skateboarding lessons.

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“I would never leave my kids at the skate park by themselves because I don’t think it’s safe,” said Chris Pates, an Eagle resident who runs the shop with his wife, Amy Pates. “But here you can drop the kids off and go to Costco or go shopping or do something you need to do as a parent and the kids are safe and sound.”

On a recent afternoon, 8-year-old Spencer Burwell rode his skateboard higher and higher up the masonite halfpipe as Pates coached him.

Like most of his friends, Burwell can’t get enough of CJs.

“As soon as it opened, he and all the other kids at school found out about it and now he’s here at least twice a week,” said urwell’s dad, Eagle resident Aaron Burwell.

CJs stands at 150 Cooley Mesa Road in a shopping center near Costco. It’s a controlled environment where children can learn to skateboard without hurting themselves, Chris Pates said.

“We try to minimize any crashing at all,” he said. “It doesn’t really have to happen in the beginning.

“We hold onto their hands a lot until we’re comfortable with them doing certain tricks, then we let their hands go.”

CJs offers 90-minute skateboarding lessons for elementary and middle school-aged children. Group lessons range from $20 for a single class to $180 for a dozen classes. The skate shop also holds private lessons for $35.

Along with structured lessons, the shop also holds “sessions,” informal open skates. Ninety-minute sessions range from $12 for a single visit to $90 for 10 sessions. Chris Pates offers separate sessions for adults and children, which he said helps to avoid dangerous collisions.

“When you have an 180-pound adult and a 33-pound child, if they run into each other you can have serious, serious injury,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest reason why we don’t want to have the big kids with the little kids.”

CJs consists of the halfpipe, an adjacent warehouse-like space outfitted with small wooden ramps and the shop itself. The store sells skateboards ($40 to $60) and longboards ($200 to $650), along with clothes.

The Pates own the Caddis Corner shopping center where CJs stands. They lease the skate shop space to New Hampshire resident Scott Broughton, who owns CJs. Broughton could not be reached for comment.

In the future, Chris Pates envisions organizing tours of area skate parks. He pictures combining the tours with overnight camping trips.

In the meantime, CJs allows skaters to enjoy their sport in the great indoors.

“In the summertime, when it’s raining and when it’s really, really hot, our halfpipe is dry and cool,” Chris Pates said. “Then in the wintertime, there isn’t any place to skate outside, so they can come here and skate.”

What: CJs Board Shop

Where: 150 Cooley Mesa Road, Gypsum

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week; adult sessions from 6:30 to 8 p.m. each night; Contact the store for child lesson and session times

More information: 970-328-3113 or or e-mail

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