Originally posted on SnowboarderGuide.com
In Part 2 of our interview with big-mountain freerider Jeremy Jones, we learn more about his two-year movie project, Deeper, and his recently announced snowboard company, Jones Snowboards. If you wonder what it’s like to film a big vertical descent without helis or snowmobiles, or what his 2011 board line will be like, this interview is just what you’re looking for.
Continued from: Go Deeper: The Jeremy Jones Interview Pt.1. If you haven’t read it already, you might want to go there first.
SBG: Speaking of Deeper, your personal convictions about the environment prompted you to change your own lifestyle and riding habits, and this has led to what we keep hearing about as a different video. What can you tell us about Deeper?
Jeremy: Deeper is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Over the last couple of years I’ve realized that the biggest high I get in snowboarding is getting away from everyone, into these new worlds, and hiking what I ride. It’s always been a huge part of my snowboarding, it’s just that the snowboard world only sees 10% of that time; the Alaska time basically. A lot of the spots I was filming had gotten pretty crowded for us; we we’re battling with lots of other helicopters, and the exploration side of things was no longer there. There’s really this small little piece of terrain that everyone battles over, and I just wanted to get past that terrain and into the vast unknown; to get away from helicopters and get back to first descents.
SBG: How was the transition from helis and snowmos to accessing all of your terrain on foot?
Jeremy: The actual going out and hiking and riding has made up the majority of my winters in the past, but when it came time to film I would hop on a snowmobile or go take a helicopter, so it was a more a mental change. For instance, when that “Day of Days” would come into Tahoe, we couldn’t just jump on a snowmobile and have 5 shots in the can before 11. It was changing my mindset from that to going out the day before, camping, and putting so much energy into hopefully getting one or two shots that day. Same with Alaska, we couldn’t set up camp until it was sunny, because we’d take a plane and land out there to get set up. To get to where we were going we flew through the heli zone, and it was run after run after run of lines that I’ve been on in countless movies. It’s where I’ve done a lot of my work, and if I was in a helicopter, I’d be landing and be snowboarding right away. Instead, I’m in a plane, and I’m going into the unknown and having to set up, and I’m at the minimum a day away from even thinking about dropping into a line of any seriousness. The change was mental.
SBG: Was it hard to get filmers on board to hike with you and capture the footage?
Jeremy: The existing film crews had their reservations already, which is why it took me a little longer to make this change and it didn’t come instantly. I realized I really had to do my own thing and find my own film crew. There are a ton of filmers out there who love the idea of camping and getting out deeper. Some of them have worked on existing snowboard movies for years and some are a little new to the game. I wouldn’t try to talk someone, whether a rider or filmer, into a trip. Either they were jumping off the roof to do it, or I was going to find someone else.
SBG: Last year’s film “My Own Two Feet,” from Leeward, started down this path you’re following with Deeper. Did Leeward’s film inspire “Deeper”, or was the concept something you had already considered? How does Deeper continue the story?
Jeremy: Last year I did 5 movies, I think, one of them being Leeward’s, and it was really the one movie that I was most looking forward to at the beginning of the season, and the one I had the most fun working on. I had been wanting to go in that direction, but as a pro snowboarder my job is exposure. I can’t just draw a line and say “I’m done working with all film crews.” What Leeward showed me was that the project could be done. It was great working with Chris Edmands from Leeward. That helped give me the confidence to go in a direction that I had been longing to go in.
SBG: Next, the hot topic: Jones Snowboards. You were with Rossignol for a long time, is there more to the story in that split that you can’t talk about or aren’t talking about, or were you just ready to do your own thing?
Jeremy: I have had a growing desire to do my own thing, it had been building for the last year or two. Rossignol has had some tough times with ownership changes in the last couple of years, and the combination of issues really inspired my decision.
SBG: Did you already know that you wanted to work with Nidecker, or did you go through a selection process?
Jeremy: I talked with a few others, but Nidecker gave me the confidence to start my own company. With all the situations I was considering it was clear to me that working with Nidecker would result in the best boards.
SBG: What will differentiate Jones Snowboards from everything else on the market? What’s your selling point?
Jeremy: Jones Snowboards is 100% focused on freeride boards. I feel like there’s a lot of room for new design coming out, and we’re very focused on the freeride market. The whole company is set up towards freeriding, instead of most of these other companies that have a single board in their line and it’s a little bit of an afterthought.
SBG: How will you be working your environmental principles into the company?
Jeremy: For starters, Nidecker is doing some pretty cool stuff with their factory; they’re pretty advanced compared to what some other companies are doing. It all starts with the production and goes to the product. In year one, all of our boards will be at the top-end of the environmentally friendly scale. I can’t say we’ll have the single most environmentally friendly board available, but as a whole, if you compared our board line to another company’s board line, our line will be one of the most environmentally friendly. And that’s just the baseline to start with. It was important to me with that Nidecker wasn’t done moving forward on this front, and they’re not; we hope to continue progressing in that area. They’re will also be a big connection to POW, with a percentage of sales going to support them. We’ll be working to follow through on all facets of the company.
SBG: Often, new board brands are just the same boards the manufacturer is already pressing, but with different graphics. Are we going to be looking at re-packaged Megalight, or are you doing your own board design.
Jeremy: I will be doing totally different board designs, start from finish, with new presses.
SBG: What do you want to be putting out in your boards that isn’t on the market right now.
Jeremy: I’ve been really involved with my Rossignol snowboard design in the last 10 years and taking steps forward. The board I’m designing now is the next phase in this evolution that I’ve been working on. One thing that’s frustrating with snowboards, all snowboards, is that it’s really hard for us to develop new, un-proven designs because the cost of molds is so expensive. So for example, with Rossignol if I make a new mold, I can fine tune that, but I’m basically stuck with that mold for the next 3-5 years. I’m pretty excited to make a step that I would have normally had to wait another 3-5 years to take with the evolution of my freeride board. We’re still in the testing phases for the powder board, but it will definitely be very unique to the market. We’re doing a splitboard; there’s not a lot of options out there in splitboards, so we’ll be bringing in fresh shapes and stuff into those boards. Then we’re doing a freestyle freeride board; we’re in this testing process and I’m all over the map with different profiles. Everything is open and on the table, and it’s great because where that testing process ends up, I don’t know yet.
SBG: Are you doing much with rapid-prototyping? Is that technology there yet for being able to test snowboards shapes?
Jeremy: Not as rapid as say the surf industry. Certain companies can do stuff faster; Nidecker is willing to do that. It just takes more time and man-power, so if a company is more strapped on time, they can’t go down that road, but Nidecker is really excited and is putting in the energy to develop next level stuff.
SBG: So going forward with Jones, do you think you’ll have less than that 3-5 year period to continue bringing out new shapes?
Jeremy: I do, and just in this prototype phase for example, each of these models, the difference between model one and model five is really drastic, and we’ll get into the fine-tuning sidecuts and flexes along the way. In the past you’d get five boards made and they’d have this teeny little change; you’d spend half the time just trying to figure out what the difference was between to boards.
SBG: Will you have your full line at SIA in January?
Jeremy: Four model line in January is our goal.
SBG: When you get knocked down, what motivates you to get up and try again?
Jeremy: I’d say the motivation for me is in snowboarding. I feel like I’ve been given an incredible opportunity, I know a ton of people would love this opportunity, and I think it’s a disservice to not give everything I have to it.
SBG: Shout-outs or final comments?
Jeremy: Huge thanks to my family and my sponsors, without both of them I wouldn’t be able to live this life, and a big shout-out to Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of Protect Our Winters.
This interview is transcribed from a live interview on October 9, 2009. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and readability.
Thanks to Teton Gravity Research (TGR) for use of their images.