Dew Tour veteran Ortiz excited for hometown return
At the 2008 Dew Tour, a 14-year-old Chaz Ortiz took the professional skateboarding world by storm with a first-place finish as the youngest Dew Cup winner ever.
At age 21, the Carpentersville native hopes to have a repeat performance when the 2015 Dew Tour visits Grant Park this weekend.
Dew Tour 2015Dew Tour 2015
What: Competition includes both skateboarding and BMX events
When: noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Grant Park Skate Plaza at Michigan and Roosevelt in Chicago
Tickets: No tickets required for the Dew Tour; concert with rapper Logic at 8 p.m. Saturday requires tickets
TV: NBC at 2:30 p.m. Saturday
"It's amazing that they're having the Tour out here, especially because Dew Tour was kind of where I started my whole career," Ortiz said. "For it to be in my hometown is more than amazing, and it's good for the city of Chicago. I'm super excited."
A lot has changed for Ortiz since that 2008 triumph. It would hardly be a surprise for him to win this year's Tour, considering the Zoo York-sponsored skater has become one of the best in the world, racking up contest wins left and right the last few years.
Ortiz won silver at the 2015 X Games in Austin in early June, one spot behind Nyjah Huston and just ahead of Ryan Sheckler, after notching a fifth-place finish at the Tampa Pro in March and ranking fourth at the Barcelona Street League Open in May.
Still, winning the Dew Tour in 2008 and then again in 2010 stands out among his best memories, he said, making this 2015 return to Chicago all the more meaningful.
"Winning Dew Tour when I was younger, two times in the whole series, was definitely a highlight," Ortiz said.
Ortiz will compete in the Skateboard Streetstyle event on Saturday and the Skateboard Street Best Session on Sunday at the new Grant Park Skate Plaza, which he now considers his "home park" because his girlfriend lives nearby, he said.
While the event marks Ortiz's return home, it also marks the Dew Tour's return to Chicago after a five-year hiatus.
The contest will allow many of Ortiz's local friends and family to see him show off his tricks. Ortiz said he expects a few of his former classmates from his days at Dundee Crown High School to attend.
"A couple friends from high school are going to be there for sure, and a couple of friends that I grew up with as well," he said. "There's a little bit more pressure, but I'm just going to have a good time and skate the way I know how to."
Though he's still in touch with hometown friends, Ortiz said he doesn't miss his teen years when he was trying to balance being a full-time high school student and an active pro skateboarder.
After his skating career began to take off, he and his family decided he would finish school online.
"It was tough. I don't like to do badly at anything I do, so it was just a bummer going back to school after a contest and not really knowing what was going on, and then finally catching up only to have to leave to travel again," Ortiz said. "Finally it came to the point where I was pretty much going to school for no reason."
Despite his early pro start, Ortiz said the money, fans, and famous friends such as Sheckler and Rob Dyrdek never went to his head.
"I've always been pretty mellow about it," he said. "I just look at it as I'm doing what I love to do, and any fame and money that comes with it is extra. I've definitely matured a little since I was 14."
After his return to Chicago for the Dew Tour, Ortiz said he plans to travel far from his roots, taking his skating skills to the other side of the globe to film some demos for Zoo York in China.