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Friday, August 10, 2012
Updated: September 17, 7:31 PM ET
Chaz 'Steez' Ortiz hits the streets

Tail slides on a bump-to-ledge is child's play for Chaz Ortiz.

While most of Chaz Ortiz's peers are anxiously waiting to go to college this 18 year old is taking a bit of a different route with his summer: releasing his very own skate part for Zoo York and competing in the most competitive and prestigious skate contests in the world. The recent high school grad has anything but a "normal" life, with Gatorade stacked to the ceiling, a private skatepark, free plane tickets and the freedom to skate all day, every day. Literally growing up on demos and tours and having been raised on televised contests his entire life, it's not unusual for him to run into fans or be recognized when he leaves his house. ESPN called Ortiz to talk about his new online part from Zoo York, Street League and the perks of being one of the youngest and most recognizable skateboarders in the world. You think this video part will shut people up who just consider you to be a contest skater?
Ortiz: I hope so, that would be nice. I mean there's nothing I can really do. I just wanted to put this part out because I haven't had a part since Zoo York's "State Of Mind," where I was 14 or 15. It was a while ago. I wanted to do it for myself and everyone out there, I didn't want to charge anyone for it. We set a start and end date on it, and got it done in nine or ten months.

It must be easier filming a video part now that you have all these tricks on lock from competing at Street League?
Not really. In the streets, these tricks take a long time -- it's not easy. I battled for a lot of tricks in that part because I haven't done them that many times or the spot is hard. In Street League you already know what to expect so you know what your gonna do and your bag of tricks pretty much. It's different.

Was it weird having a fully grown man hang out with you for several months to film the part?
I've literally know RB [Umali], the filmer, since I was like 11. He filmed my first trick ever. I kickflipped this double set in New York and I've been filming with him ever since. I don't really like filming with a lot of people and I just feel comfortable with him. We get the job done and it doesn't matter how long it takes, he's down to film.

Do you practice tricks in your park with the intention of doing them at a specific street spot afterwards?
Yeah, some tricks are like that, like the 180 nosegrind switch flip. I kinda learned at the park and then took it to this ledge my buddy built. But it's kinda like whatever tricks I'm doing at the time, I'm just gonna try to do them on the street. It definitely helps to practice them before.

Do you plan your filming schedule around Street League contest stops? Like waiting for the right time to try the harder tricks?
Yeah, I definitely did do that. I just tried to do all the big stuff the first day I went on trips, to get it done so there was enough time before Street League contest stops. I didn't wanna be super sore skating the contest.

For instance, the first time I tried the big varial heel in my part, I was so beat up I couldn't walk, and I didn't even land it. So afterwards I planned it out like, go back and try it again and left about a week before the next stop of Street League so I would be good to go by then. Luckily I got it in like 10 tries and didn't get too beat up the second time, and the part was pretty much done after that.

What's more important to you, doing well in Street League or finishing up that part?
Definitely finishing up that part. I just needed that last footage and I didn't really care that Street League was there. I worked so hard on it. Right after Street League I'd fly to Atlanta or Florida or somewhere and just film. It wasn't even like I was practicing for Street League, I was just skating the streets and filming and then flying right to the contest.

Have you ever cried from not winning a contest?
Hell no!

What about as a little kid?
Yeah, maybe once. When I was like six or seven. But not recently. I take it seriously, but you know you do well or badly, it happens. Of course you might be a little bummed but it's not the end of the world.

What have you been doing with your contest money?
I just invest in stocks and save it up. I don't really spend a lot of money, just here and there. I mean I get everything for free, so there's not a lot to spend my money on.

What type of cool stuff do you get from Gatorade?
I got a vending machine at my park, a couple coolers at my house, Gatorade stocked up to my ceiling at all times. They hook it up, like I went to the Superbowl and got like courtside tickets. It's good being a part of it. I've met people like Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade from doing commercials and stuff.

Who came up with the name Steez Ortiz?
It's weird, Rob Dyrdek started calling me that around the time Twitter came out and was popular. I made my name that because I was like young or whatever and I thought it was cool, but I didn't give myself that name. I wouldn't do that. It just kinda happened, and then everyone called me Steez because Rob called me it, so I was like okay whatever, that's cool.

How often do you get recognized?
Probably every time I go somewhere. It's kinda weird. It's just because of contests like X Games and when I used to skate the Dew Tour, just being on TV a lot.

You still go to normal high school parties?
Yeah sometimes, I'll go to little parties and they'll ask me dumb questions. It's so funny to hear what they talk about.

Chaz Ortiz.

What, do they ask you if you hang out with Rob Dyrdek and Tony Hawk and stuff?
Oh my god, I get that all the time. It's gotten to the point where I'm like, "Nah, I don't know them." It's way more fun just to mess with people. Because as soon as you tell someone you have hung out with them, there's a million more questions. [laughs].

According to some theories we are supposed to die in 2012. What do you think?
I don't think so. That's what they said about 2000. At first I was kinda spooked, cause there was so much talk on it. But honestly, I might be crazy but I think they did that cause we are obviously in the worst situation economically right now. They are saying that so people would go spend their money and boost the economy. Like, "Oh my god! The world's gonna end. Go crazy with your money!" Go buy stuff you don't need, extra food for the basement, tents and shelters.

A lot of people stock up and buy all this stuff that won't go bad for their basement. You can say anything on the news and everyone will do it. It's so sketchy. If they told us to go buy popcorn to live forever people would go do it.

So if we don't die, are you filming for anything coming up?
Yeah, the Zoo team is filming an East Coast promo video coming out soon, so I'm getting tricks for that when I can.