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MailTribune.com
  • The next BIG thing

    Medford man continues his quest to introduce the world to riverboarding, a sport he invented on the Rogue River
  • Dan Bryant pushes his feet down on the funky piece of plywood, sinking into an upper Rogue River riffle exactly by design.
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  • Dan Bryant pushes his feet down on the funky piece of plywood, sinking into an upper Rogue River riffle exactly by design.
    His hands grip rope handles as he floats downstream, triggering tension on the long bungee cord attaching his riverboard to the bank.
    When the tension hits its climax, Bryant and his board shoot forward at close to 40 mph and he digs the corner of the board into the river to throw a roostertail splash forward.
    "That was probably a 50-footer," says Bryant, 45, of Medford.
    That's also 10 points on the National River Board Association score sheet Bryant devised 21 years ago, but only a few family members watching from shore notice.
    "It's ultimately you and the water," Bryant says. "Once you have it, it's yours to do anything you wish."
    Bryant's been selling that image of riverboarding for 30 years now. And for the life of him, he can't believe the rest of the watersports world hasn't bought in.
    This niche sport that traces its roots to the upper Rogue has yet to crack the extreme sports crowd despite Bryant's lifelong effort to introduce it to envelope-pushers who play on water.
    He's still waiting for that one endorsement check, that one national demonstration, that one shot at showing adrenaline junkies now on skateboards, snowboards and water skis what riverboarding has to offer.
    Bryant believes that's all riverboarding needs to be the next hot X Games competition.
    "Once people find this, come to this and legitimize it as a sport, it'll give every watersport a run for its money," Bryant says.
    "This could even be done on the Olympic level," he says.
    Still, only a handful of riverboarders sprinkled around the Pacific Northwest have drank Bryant's Kool-Aid. A few German tourists who stumbled onto Bryant and his riverboard during a trip on the Rogue 17 years ago brought the sport to Europe, where its mild popularity ranks higher than in the United States.
    "It's a sport trapped in this little niche," he says.
    This weekend was supposed to be a breakout time. Bryant planned to have a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records on hand at his riverboarding playground on the Denman Wildlife Area to verify world records in dozens of trick categories.
    Riders from throughout the Northwest were to attend.
    But Bryant, a landscaper by day, couldn't raise the $700 needed to get Guinness to town.
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