Fame is "awesome," says 16-year-old skateboarding pro, Chaz Ortiz
Meet 16-year-old professional skateboarder Chaz Ortiz, who has so many Facebook requests that he “can’t keep up with them.” Skateboarding might keep Ortiz out of trouble but it doesn't stop the rabid fans who turn up when he performs. "They’re crazy. They scream at you."
When VO met up with the Chicago native at Vancouver Skate Plaza this Friday, Ortiz pulled up with a small entourage. And while he admits that celebrity is "awesome," fame hasn't wrapped its talons around this young skater yet. Moments after stepping out of the car, Ortiz was on his board, flying from one side of the park to the other. He may have several sponsorship deals and major contests under his belt, but Ortiz is really just another kid who loves to skate.
Ortiz, who turned pro two weeks ago, caught the eye of the skateboarding world in 2008 when he entered and won the Free Flow Tour, a top amateur contest. Riding on his success, the prodigy was offered a wildcard entry to the PlayStation Pro preliminaries, where he placed sixth overall, outperforming top pros like Greg Lutzka. Ortiz is in Vancouver as part of his cross-Canada Gatorade Ambush Tour this summer.
Like many teenagers, he loves music and has trouble staying awake in class. So what does this young skating pro think of another teenage sensation, Canada's own Justin Bieber? Keep reading to find out.
When did you start skateboarding?
I started skating when I was six years old. My cousins got me into it. They had a board and I just tried it and loved it.
Do you think that skateboarding keeps you in or out of trouble?
Keeps me out of trouble. I can be a normal kid and just skateboard.
Does it get you girls?
I guess so. At contests there are a lot of girls. They’re crazy. They scream at you. They try to get your attention.
Do you think that most of your fans are guys or girls?
I think both. Obviously, skateboarding is mostly guys, but there are a lot of girl skaters, too.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I do have a girlfriend.
Is she into skateboarding?
We roll around a little bit. We cruise. I’ve known her for a long time. We’ve been dating for thirteen months now.
How many Facebook friends do you have?
I think I have 5000, but I get so many requests that I can’t keep up with them.
Do you maintain your Facebook page?
Yeah, I do it all.
Do you get a lot of fan mail? What do people say to you?
Yeah, I get a lot of mail. They say "you’re such a good skater". They ask me how to do tricks.
When did you become famous?
A couple of years ago.
What's it like?
Who have you skated with?
Ryan Sheckler, Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Decenzo.
What's your best trick?
I don’t really have one. But I did one in a contest that no one else did. It was a kick-flip to front side, board side, and kick flip back.
What was your worst fall?
When I was 13, I broke my collarbone skating and I broke my elbow too. It took a couple months to heal.
What kind of music are you into?
Hip hop. I like Li'l Wayne and Jay-Z.
What are your thoughts on Justin Bieber?
He’s doing his thing. He’s making it.
Do you really drink Gatorade?
I do drink Gatorade. It gives you everything that you need. And I’m not just saying that!
What’s your favourite flavour?
I like Blueberry pomegranate.
Is it hard to balance your homework with skateboarding?
Yeah, sometimes, it can be hard. But I try my best, or I just don’t do it.
Do you ever fall asleep in class?
Yeah, I do.
Have you ever gotten caught?
My teachers don’t really care. They look at it as your education that you’re wasting.
Do your parents make you do chores?
No. I make sure my room is tidy, but that’s about it.
Do you have any siblings?
I do. I have a four-year old sister.
Does she skateboard?
Yeah, she’s been trying. She can kick and roll around.
What would you say to someone starting out in skateboarding?
If you really want to do it, go for it. It takes time, hard work, dedication. Make sure you practice everyday. I’m still learning new stuff.
Are you going to keep skateboarding?
I’m going to keep going as long as I can. Tony Hawk is in his forties and he’s still skateboarding. It really depends on your body. Hopefully I can keep going.
I’d like to start my own clothing business and maybe make skateboards.
Ortiz will be hanging out at skate parks across the Lower Mainland over the weekend, meeting local skaters and showing off his tricks.
You can catch him at the following locations:
Friday, July 9th
4-6 pm - Quilchena Park
Saturday, July 10th
12-2 pm - Abbortsford Youth Park
3:30-5:30 pm - Lonsdale Skate Park
6-8 pm - Strathcona Skate Park
Sunday, July 11th
11-1PM - Pomo Rotary Skate Park
1:30-3:30PM - Port Coquitlam Skate Park
4:30-6:30PM - Coquitlam Skate Park