'Mom always said I was stubborn': Amputee Troy Burt vying for North America's top snowmobiler

A snowmobiler from a small town in Newfoundland is making a big name for himself in an online competition, and hoping to give back to people in the province.

Summerford snowmobiler up against just 1 other in Supertrax Magazine contest

Troy Burt, from Summerford, is one of the top two finalists in an online competition for North America's top snowmobiler, hosted by SuperTrax Magazine. (Troy Burt/Tom Caines)

A snowmobiler from a small town in Newfoundland is making a big name for himself, competing in the final two for the top snowmobiler in North America.

Troy Burt's left leg was amputated below the knee nearly eight years ago, after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle.

Burt lost his left leg, broke his neck in four places, and suffered numerous other injuries when he was struck by the vehicle, including a bruised spinal cord, cracked skull, severe brain damage, two blown out knees, and fractures in all of his left ribs.

It takes a lot of trust in my prosthetic leg to pull off some of these things.- Troy Burt

But when doctors told him he'd likely never compete in sports or ride a snowmobile again, Burt couldn't accept it.

"That was coming from the doctors when I was lying in the hospital bed, but I said nope," Burt told CBC's Central Morning Show.

"Mom always said I was stubborn."

Snowmobiling publication Supertrax Magazine and Ski-Doo launched an online contest earlier this winter, looking for North America's top snowmobiler.

Burt saw the contest and decided to submit his bio, photo and video for a chance to be one of the top 24 finalists, but said he never expected to make it through to the final round, going up against only one other snowmobiler for the top spot.

Troy Burt says he's hoping to give back to organizations like the Miller Centre and War Amps if things go will for him in the competition. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"I'm from Newfoundland born and raised, there was 24 people from all over North America, all throughout the Colorado Rockies, all throughout B.C., all throughout Canada, the United States. And here I am, top two," he said.

Burt is up against Matthew Corbeil, from Timmins, Ont.

"If I were to win this contest it would be unbelievable."

'Want to give back as much as I can'

Burt thinks his unique story has helped him stand out, since he said most people don't expect an amputee to ride snowmobiles competitively.

"I ride back country riding and it comes to jumping all around the sled, feet off, feet on, up over the handlebars, jumping," said Burt.

"You're constantly moving, so it takes a lot of trust in my prosthetic leg to pull off some of these things and it just took a lot of work and practice."

During the competition, Burt created a bit of a brand for himself on Facebook — 5 Toes Riding — and is hoping to have merchandise available soon.

[Prosthesis is] all out of pocket, so for all the guys and girls that have no private coverage, it can get costly.- Troy Burt

The 5 Toes Riding Facebook page is a place for snowmobilers to share their stories, videos and photos, as well as engage in discussion, Burt said.

But it's about more than that.

"My plan is, if everything goes well, that a portion of each purchase will go toward a cause like War Amps or the Miller Centre — people in Newfoundland with prosthetics," said Burt.

"I want to give back as much as I can and hopefully just get my name out there and winning this contest will put me at a greater level to bring 5 Toes Riding to the forefront of snowmobiling, with Ski-Doo and Supertrax."

Troy Burt says he couldn't accept it when doctors told him he would likely never snowmobile again, after his left leg was amputated following a motorcycle crash nearly eight years ago. (Troy Burt/Facebook)

Newfoundland and Labrador's MCP program does not cover the cost of a prosthesis, and Burt said he hopes this competition will put him in a position to help people who can't afford the hefty cost.

"It's all out of pocket, so for all the guys and girls that have no private coverage, it can get costly," said Burt.

"These things are very, very expensive and if I can maybe give back or help out in some way, it would just be my way of saying thanks. Thanks for voting for me … just do a good thing."

The Supertrax contest closes to voting Feb. 8.

With files from Melissa Tobin


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