Commentary

Ortiz rides high

Updated: November 10, 2008, 1:57 PM ET
By Brian A. Giuffra | ESPNRISE.com

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

[+] EnlargeChaz Ortiz
Bo Bridges/AST Dew TourChaz Ortiz is ranked third in skate park in the AST Dew Tour standings.

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.