BY LINDA BAKER
A rider demonstrates the odd charm of the Norgeboard, which is 14 inches wide and comes in varying lengths. Norgeboard was launched in Bend last fall.
Bend has always been a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and those hawking outdoor products. Now yet another Bend entrepreneur is hoping to make his mark on the city, this time with “land paddle boarding,” a recreational activity that looks a bit like someone contorting his way through a Monty Python School of Funny Walks episode. “It’s a real nice feeling and a great core workout,” says Steven Bangsund, a former sales rep for the construction industry who launched Norgeboard in September 2011.
Modeled after paddle-boarding on water, the sport involves a skateboard like contraption and a paddle, both of which the rider uses to propel himself along a road or path. Norgeboard isn't the only company selling such equipment in the United States. But according to Bangsund, whose Norwegian heritage inspired the company’s name, it’s one of the few outfits focusing on large boards and the activity as a training option for athletes.
The 14-inch wide Norgeboard is also more stable than the typical 9-inch skateboard, making his boards a good fit for kids and seniors looking for a fun and easy way to exercise.
A budding entrepreneur, Bangsund spends plenty of time holding demos — 500 so far — and spreading the word at Bend’s myriad sporting events and festivals, including Winterfest, Springfest and Pole Pedal Paddle. At 6’9” Bangsund is also his own best marketing tool. Accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Kalven, he cruises along the Bend waterfront on a 6-foot board, attracting “lots of comments, people saying it’s really cool, asking how I came up with the idea.”
So far, Bangsund has sold about 40 Norgeboards, which he crafts himself out of bamboo — “it gives an amazing flex and ride” — in a local warehouse and sells online and in stores for $199-$279.
Bangsund says he’s eager to spread his wings beyond his hometown. He’s landed an account with a shop in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and this summer is headed to California “to get the word out.”