Jeremy Jones was instrumental in rescuing the snowboard industry from stagnation. On the 10-year anniversary of his eponymous brand, he’s celebrating a decade of innovation by doubling down on experimentation.
This winter marks 10 years for Jones snowboards. And just this month it launched a limited-edition stick it calls the Stratos, yet another manifestation of near-constant R&D. This on the heels of re-tooling its entire line, including the beloved all-mountain, all-conditions workhorse, the Flagship.
Make no mistake, though, change has been the one and only constant at Jones since the very beginning.
Started by freeride phenom Jeremy Jones, it’s a reflection of his restless imagination and obsession with, as he often puts it, a “life of glide.” An avid surfer and uncompromising advocate of human-powered ascents, Jones spends most of his life traveling over water in its various forms. He seems to dream in camber profiles and spoon curvature and no shape in the line is safe from constant tweaking.
Here, he reveals some of the method behind the madness.
You were with Rossignol for 19 years. How did you deal with your shape obsession when you weren’t the one in charge?
By the time I left Rossignol, I think I had 23 snowboards with my name on it. I wasn’t all that involved in shaping at 14 years old but by the time I was 18, I was pretty damn involved. I would spend a lot of time with the head designer in France—he’s a genius, but very stubborn—and I would have to really finesse my feedback to get what I wanted. They’re a big brand and were on that typical production cycle, changing a mold every five years or whatever. Here I was, just pinned, fifth gear wide open, trying to sneak in changes between the sample and the production model. I was almost coming at it from a surf perspective—surfers are refining on every iteration. This actually taught me quite a bit about business. Having good ideas is one thing. But being able to get everyone on board with it is really the art of business.
What inspired the move to do your own thing?
I was hanging out with Shane McConkey a lot at that time and I think the pontoon ski was in the works. I was really paying attention to what skiers were doing—they we’re playing with a ton of directional rocker stuff. I remember being in Alaska with all these pros and I’d be asking them all sorts of questions about their skis. Meanwhile, changes to snowboards over a 15-year period had been microscopic. All the attention was on freestyle.
And you had your eye on the ultimate freeride board?
Actually, even by that point, 70 percent of my snowboarding was splitboarding. So, when I was thinking of launching Jones, my mind was exploding with ideas on how to make a really nice splitboard. Up to then, when you were on a splitboard [in ride mode], you really had to remind yourself to keep it in third gear. We called our splitboard the Solution because it solved this major problem. I realized the sky’s the limit when it comes to shapes and I wanted to be a part of that. The Solution was one of the four key models we launched with, which are still the bones of our line today.
Over the last 10 years, you’ve barely changed the Flagship, but you recently changed it quite a bit. What prompted that?
The board I was on when I left Rossignol I felt was the ultimate freeride board, and the Flagship was simply the next iteration of that and we have made small adjustments and refinements. Then we did start prototyping new ideas for the Flagship a few years ago, but we kept it really secret. I remember talking to some of our biggest distributors and shops, you know, just floating it out there. They all said ‘do not change that board, you’d be crazy to change that board.’ The version we just launched has a smoother ride, a nose that cuts through variable snow conditions better, it’s snappier—those same distributors that fought like hell not to change it absolutely love it. Never let sales people be in charge of products.
Let’s talk about your Chris Christensen collaboration. Can surf shapes really inform what will work on snow?
Absolutely. Freeriding is all about keeping enough speed to hit all the beautiful waves on the mountain. Because surf board shaping is all about reducing drag in the water, a lot can be learned about reducing drag. Surfboard shapers like Chris have entire cabinets full of these super refined curves, rocker profiles, tip profiles — every curve you see on a surfboard is coming from these incredibly refined forms they have in their shaping room. Even the smallest flat spots or abrupt curve change is felt in the water. I wanted to just start with a piece of wood and design a snowboard the exact same way. I dropped into a line on one piece of wood Chris shaped and I felt it immediately. These days, there’s Christensen DNA through every Jones board.
Assuming most people own one snowboard—a sort of daily driver like the Flagship or Mountain Twin—what is the ideal “quiver” board, a second shape to compliment that all-rounder?
If you want to funkify your quiver, I would go with a “surf” shape like the Mind Expander or Storm Chaser. The Mind expander is a little bit more of an all-rounder but the Storm Chaser is incredible in powder. But its width makes it a little less responsive on variable terrain.
Jones Snowboards: A Buyer’s Guide to the Core Lineup
These are the four men’s boards that the Jones brand was built around, each with a quality that suits a different style of riding. As a founder of Protect Our Winters (POW) and climate change activist, Jeremy Jones prioritized sustainability in his latest line. Thirty percent of the resin in the epoxy Jones uses is now a renewable bio-resin (sourced from the food industry) and the wood cores are Stewardship Council certified.
Jeremy’s personal freeride masterpiece is the most versatile board in the line. The latest version is quicker and snappier than previous iterations with a bottom spoon that is identical to Chris Christensen’s surfboard bottom contours.
This more symmetrical shape is more playful and more at home on groomers, hard pack, or the park. It’s certainly a better daily driver for anyone who rides switch as often as they do regular.
Jones’ workhorse splitboard is essentially a Flagship that turns into skis, with top-of-the line Karakoram clips and an unrivaled board feel.
Once considered an “alternative” surf-inspired shape, the hovercraft has become a daily driver for many who are lucky enough to be hitting steep and deep snow most of the time.
The post The Shape Shifter: Jeremy Jones Reflects on 10 Years of Snowboard Innovation, Experimental Collabs, and More appeared first on Men’s Journal.