Anthony Mandra

When Anthony was a teenager in 2010 he got his start in snowboarding. His dad and some of his friends who snowboarded took Anthony out. Anthony said, “I realized that I love this and I wanted to be out here in the storms and the deep snow and pretty much just out on the mountain. That’s like the best place.”

One of Anthony’s dad’s coworkers took him under his wing and started teaching him the ins and outs of snowboarding. Turns out Anthony had a natural ability for snowboarding, the balance, and everything the sport required. But when his parents got divorced and his dad moved to Florida, Anthony went with him and gave up his new love of the snow for a while. He came back to New Hampshire specifically because of snowboarding and his family. He said, “I just wanted to be up here instead of down south.”

On may 27th 2017 Anthony was on his way home riding his 1985 Harley Roadster when the driver of a car failed to yield while turning left at a four way intersection and ended up driving straight into Anthony making him collide with the driver’s front fender. The impact caused his left foot to be crushed and then he was launched out of his steel toe boot and he went off of his bike flying about 20 ft through the air still conscious with his arms out like Superman. He was somehow able to tuck and roll while hitting the ground. At that point all he could do was hop backward to the side of the road on his right foot where he laid down. That’s when it hit him that there was something seriously wrong.

He was brought to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and then shortly after that Med Flighted to Massachusetts General Hospital where, after a few surgeries trying to see if they could save his foot, he was told there wasn’t enough left to save and he needed to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Recovery took a while. “Oh, so it definitely took me a while. I want to say I didn’t snowboard for at least a year and a half, maybe two years after my accident.” He did take up skateboarding first. And sometime later when he got back to snowboarding, “It was completely different then I remembered, but I quickly realized that I should put my prosthetic foot forwards [opposite to what I was used to] after talking to some people and, steer and put the pressure on with my real foot in the back. And from there it was like everything just clicked in my head and I just kinda kept going and pushing myself back to it. But, yeah, definitely it took me a little while to get going.”

Luckily Anthony has never had any serious injuries snowboarding…just the usual minor stuff like shoulder dings where he thinks to himself, “I shouldn’t have landed on that.” But he realizes he needs to be resilient and to push himself. He believes if he does the training and the recovery workouts he will get stronger.

He wants to start working out in half pipes especially now that he has his sights set on trying out for the Paralympics. Meanwhile he loves the snowparks where he plays around doing manuals across the boxes and flying down the rails. He loves going over jumps. “It’s just the feel of flying through the air,” he loves. “It’s just so freeing and like, honestly, it’s one of the closest feelings that I can get to being back on a motorcycle. That same kind of feeling like you’re one with your elements.” But he will never get back on a motorcycle because he has a son and does not want to risk not being there for him. Snowboarding is much safer, of course, then riding a motorcycle. “There are no cars out here to take me out. And I do a pretty good job of avoiding other snowboarders.”

Anthony’s current foot is a problem for him. He’s not just a sedate snowboarder, he really goes for it. “The pain can be pretty intense at times because the recoil and the rebound of the carbon fiber foot smashing up against my tibia is kind of like it, it really does not feel the best, but I push myself because I know that the more I push myself, the stronger I’ll be and the stronger my residual limb will be in the end.”

Anthony will be getting a new special snowboarding foot from The Who Says I Can’t Foundation, the one prescribed by his coaches at the Paralympic Training Center. “I’m hoping it just opens up so many new windows and opportunities in my brain. So my brain tells my legs to do something and my current foot just won’t do it. [With the new foot] I’m hoping that it’s like, boom, you know. So I know it’s gonna take some getting used to for sure.”

Here are a couple videos of Anthony in action. Click each to view.