Winter Park skier contends to be Disney’s ‘Next X’ |

Winter Park skier contends to be Disney’s ‘Next X’

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado
NEXT X - A reality series for kids developed by Disney XD in association with ESPN, "Winter Next X" features two of the world's best snowboarding and skiing athletes as they mentor young amateur athletes in their chosen sport, teaching them how to hone their technical skills and grow to become the next winter action sports superstar. The story is told through five short-form episodes culminating in a 15-minute television special. (DISNEY XD/MATT POWER)

East Grand Middle School sixth-grader Birk Irving is starring in a Disney reality show that premiers at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, on Disney XD, a Disney affiliate geared to boys.

The 11-year-old skier will be one of four young athletes to learn from the pros in the new installment of “Winter Next X,” developed in association with ESPN.

Professional Winter X Games athletes Sarah Burke, five-time X Games medalist, and Danny Kass, two-time Olympic silver medalist, mentor the young snow riders to see which grommet will be named the “Next X.” The winner will have the opportunity to showcase his skills at Winter X Games 15 in Aspen.

New episodes will air daily (same time slot) throughout the week, culminating in a 15-minute special which airs at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7. The episodes will appear on the show’s website immediately following each episode.

Shot on location in Aspen, the episodes chronicle the young athletes’ quest for the Next X title.

Birk agreed to an interview on Tuesday night before he headed out to shoot the final episode at X Games Thursday, Jan. 27, where the winner was announced. (Although anyone who saw the showcase at the X Games on Thursday will know who the winner was, Disney’s keeping it a secret to maintain suspense while the episodes air.)

Birk landed a spot on the show after Winter Park Resort’s terrain park manager and youth marketing director Bob Holmes submitted a tape of Birk to the show’s producers.

“It was a really fun experience to hang out with all the kids and meet new friends and learn new tricks,” Birk said.

The best part: “I learned a Cork 9,” Birk said. “Staying at the Hotel Aspen was really cool too.”

As Birk describes it, after some practicing and interviews on the first day, each of the boys was paired up with one of the pros to work one-on-one and learn some new tricks.

On the third day, each kid performed a five-jump showcase … hitting one jump five times, a rail five times and another jump five times.

“After that we had lunch,” Birk said, reminding us that, even though he’s pulling Cork 9’s and starring in a Disney show, he’s still an 11-year-old boy at heart.

The final day, the kids went to practice in the half pipe and hit the boarder cross course at Buttermilk.

At the end of the four days, the pros decided which kid had the best landings, most variety and best sportsmanship

“I am hoping to be the Next X,” Birk said. “All the other kids did some pretty good tricks and they had some good sportsmanship, so it’s really close.”

Even if he doesn’t win, Birk said, “It was really fun just to work with Disney, and it was fun just knowing that I was going to be on Disney Channel.”

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