Chaz Ortiz tops qualifiers at Tampa Pro

Rob Meronek/SPoT

Kyle Berard, getting practice laps, and this switch Smith grind, in on Thursday at the Skatepark of Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Chaz Ortiz qualified first at the Tampa Pro Saturday. He and second-place qualifier Torey Pudwill earned "golden tickets," which means they get to skip Sunday's semi-finals and go straight to the finals.

The five heats of qualifying were incredible, with guys from France, Chile, Brazil, Austrailia and the U.S. rounding out a truly international field. One of the most exciting skateboarders of the day was Italo Romano from Brazil. He qualified in 19th place without the use of his legs. In the same fashion as fellow Brazilian Og De Souza, he sat on his skateboard and used his hands to do the rest.

Romano lifts the nose and tail of his board while jumping to ollie and has no trouble flipping his board as well. His kickflip down the gap at the end of his run was picture perfect -- he will definitely be someone to look out for in the future.

Other standouts included Bobby Worrest, Ishod Wair and Sean Malto. Worrest, who is known more for his street skills than his contest pacing, looked really comfortable on his board. He landed switch kickflip frontside boardslides down the little rail like they were done in his natural stance. Rookie pro, Ishod Wair, zipped around the course, crushing every obstacle in his path on his way to a seventh-place qualifying spot.

With a nickname like "the most perfect boy in the world", it is no surprise that Sean Malto qualified in fifth. After his run Malto said that he was going to try a nollie frontside feeble down the big rail but "when I popped I was still about four feet away and just barely got my truck over into a front board." Luckily though, it worked out and we will be seeing more Malto Sunday.

Torey Pudwill, who released an impressive video part for Plan B skateboards last year came back from ankle surgery and brought some serious heat. With fronstide and backside lipslides across and down the multi-purpose ledge, and a feeble grind to backside lipslide on the long flat rail, Pudwill lived up to his reputation for doing technical combinations.

Contest killer Chaz Ortiz's skating was solid and his runs were jam packed with difficult tricks. It's nice to see that Ortiz is progressing, and not over doing the same old tricks, which is the trap that so many other contest skaters seem to fall into. He did some new moves like a frontside hurricane pop out on the flat rail, a backside noseblunt on he little rail and a backside 360 down the gap. Pudwill and Ortiz will be watching while the other 28 skaters compete in the semis for the coveted 10 remaining spots in the finals.

The action starts Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

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