An 11-year-old Lexington boy has a 1-in-5 shot of making a splash during the X-Games this summer.
That's a long way from his first skateboarding competition.
The day before the competition began, "I went face first into the ramp," Micah Wu said.
"It looked like somebody hit his face with a baseball bat," said his dad, David Wu.
But Micah was undeterred. He wanted to skate.
"Oh, yeah," he said with a hint of a smile, "I still competed, but I had to wear a mouth guard."
He was 8, and he took third place in the intermediate class, a category filled with older boys.
Now, about 50 competitions later, Micah is part of a Disney production that pairs promising young skateboarders and BMX riders with professionals. The kids were flown to California, where they had a chance to work with professional mentors. Micah was paired with California-based skateboarder Billy Marks.
Short videos of the workouts will be shown online and on Disney XD. In the end, one of the challengers will win a chance to be spotlighted during the X Games, July 30 to Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, and featured in a 30-minute show on Disney XD and online.
The five were picked from a pool of about 50 potential participants, executive director Douglas Ross said. Producers were looking not only for good athletes and strong competitors, but for kids who showed good sportsmanship.
When he first met Micah, Ross thought he might be a little too reserved. Then he saw Micah skate.
"He is fearless," Ross said.
He also described Micah as "the diplomat," the kid who knew how to get the others motivated and involved. Micah sent Ross a hand-written thank-you note for being included in the show. Ross said it was the first such note he has received in two decades of making reality TV shows.
"He is a really incredible kid," Ross said. People will have to tune in to see who ultimately wins, he said. All five finalists will attend the X Games as VIPs, he said.
The games would be a treat for Micah, who was passionate about skateboarding at an early age.
"I was 2 years old and saw all the pros on TV and I really wanted to get a skateboard," Micah said recently during an interview in Woodland Park, where he skates regularly. Two years later, he got his first one. He was disappointed, however, because it had a handle like a scooter. Micah, who has a younger brother, Joshua, soon talked his parents into taking the handle off.
David Wu said he and his wife, Julie, try to maintain a balance between encouraging their obviously gifted child and preventing something that is a joy from turning into a job.
"If you love your kids, you take seriously what they love," David said. But, he said, "things get a lot more complicated as you get more successful. You can lose a piece of yourself if you are not careful."
The parents, who home-school Micah and Joshua, make sure to make time for other things, including soccer.
As far as grown-up plans, Dad and Micah aren't in a hurry.
"I'm not really sure," David said. "He's 11. I'm a teacher; I think he'd be a good teacher. I'm a minister and I think he'd be a good minister, but I am biased."
Micah wants to keep skating as long as he can, but he won't commit to a lofty dream, say, one day having his own video game like Tony Hawk.
He likes winning. He said when a crowd gets behind him, it's exhilarating. But, at the core, he just thinks skateboarding is fun.
"It's really fun learning new tricks," he said. "If you've been working a trick for like a month and you finally get it, it's so exciting."