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Ortiz rides high

11/10/2008

He isn't allowed to drive yet. His arms are as skinny as the rails he rides. His face is free of stubble. Skater Chaz Ortiz is a freshman at Dundee-Crown (Carpentersville, Ill.), but he's been seriously skating since he was 6 years old. He's a kid

Now 14, the skateboarding prodigy
is ranked third in skate park in
the AST Dew Tour standings , behind the three-time
Dew Cup champion Ryan Sheckler
and Ortiz's idol Paul Rodriguez.

Ortiz is the youngest skater on
tour -- by three years -- but he has
been one of its most consistent
performers in 2008. No driver's license
required.

"Everyone is nice, and my age
doesn't matter to them," Ortiz says.
"I don't think about (professional skating)
as being intimidating
because I'm right there with them,
and I can skate at their ability."

Ortiz jumped on the pro scene
with a third-place finish at June's
Panasonic Open, the first event of
the AST season. Proving it wasn't a
fluke, Ortiz followed with a second-place
showing at the Right Guard
Open in July.

"This just shows me I can hang
with them," Ortiz says. "This whole
thing has been a dream come true.
It's crazy to me that I'm doing it."

Ortiz, who's sponsored by Zoo York, still manages to
keep a low profile back home,
where he mostly lives like any other
kid. Only he has a legion of fans.

"At the Dew Tour, there are so
many people in the stands, and they
all know who I am because they've
seen me skate," he says. "If I'm not
skating, I'll try to just hang out with
friends and be a normal kid."

Being a normal kid is easy when you're
a freshman bumming rides from your friends. But
Ortiz isn't just a normal teen when he hits the skate park.

Brian A. Giuffra covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.