Relaxing with the King of the Mountain
In the wide world of action sports there are media darlings, fan favorites and just flat out legends.
The legends are the men and women whose lifelong exploits both in action and at rest define a standard in their discipline so lofty and rock solid that international respect and reverence naturally follow them wherever they step foot.
Truckee local and pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones is one of those legends.
From learning to snowboard on golf courses in Cape Cod to ripping the most insane peaks and couloirs on the planet filming for four major production companies last winter, Jones has spent a lifetime forging his name on the brain of every snowboarder and skier who has ever caught a glimpse of his mind blowing riding style.
Star of more than 25 action sports films and founder of a climate change foundation called Protect Our Winters, Jones’ silver screen appearances have defined the current era of big mountain freeride snowboarding while his environmental work has helped unite the activism of the snowsports industry.
On the eve of the Sept. 11 Nevada City premiere of one of Jones’ latest major film projects, Absinthe Films’ “Ready,” the Sierra Sun’s Seth Lightcap sat down with Jones at the Truckee home he shares with his wife, Tiffany, and two kids, Cass and Mia, to get a little lowdown on the past, present and future of what has come to be known as “The Jones Experience.” Here’s Jones in his own words …
… on his first glimpse of a snowboard.
“I always skateboarded and surfed from a super young age. I skied too, but I was really loving sideways sports. Obsessed over them. It was almost like I was waiting for the sport to be developed. The first time I saw a Burton Backhill I thought ‘It’s about time!'”
… on what inspired him to become a big mountain freerider.
“Growing up skiing in Vermont, it was all about skiing the whole mountain and finding powder in open terrain. Then I watched footage of what skiers like Scott Schmidt did and the riding that Tom Burt and the Hatchetts were doing. The films didn’t lie. Riding sick lines in pow was what it was all about and freeriding combined all the aspects of snowboarding I enjoyed into one run.”
… on the beauty of raising children in Tahoe.
“I love the fact that I’m surrounded by like-minded good friends with kids the same age. And there is a ton of stuff for kids to do in Tahoe. The beaches, for instance. I mean, the beach for me used to be a jump in the lake between bike rides and climbing. Now we go to the lake three or four times a week. It’s amazing to live in the mountains, but have the beach such a part of our lifestyle.”
… on why riding a line can be now or never.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to realize that when a line is in, it might be the last time I see it that good in my lifetime of being in form to ride it. That’s why I have the added intensity. If I have been looking at a line for a long time, and it comes in, I drop everything and get it. Who knows when it will be in again?”
… on what goes through his head as he’s about to drop in.
“By the time I’m dropping in all the fear has been replaced by confidence. It’s just total focus on the keys to that line – where my exit is, getting above that exit, respecting the no-fall zones. Once I’m above a clean exit, that’s when I’m willing to take chances where I could fall.”
… on his favorite snowy terrain feature to ride.
“Spines are my favorite thing in the world to ride. I love the steeps, and spines form when it’s really, really steep. Spines are the hardest terrain to find and the most challenging to ride. It’s full-body snowboarding. Your hands are involved, you’re forced to deal with your sluff, it requires everything you have to pull clean spines. And with steeps you have more access to speed. On a spine wall you can go from zero to 60 by just pointing your board for 10 feet or a small ollie will result in a 60-foot floater. I love the horsepower that steep spines give you.”
… on one of his banger shots in Absinthe Films’ new release, “Ready.”
“I did a straight run in Turkey that was one of the more committing straight runs I have ever done. It wasn’t the softest snow but the out run was really smooth. I treated the face like a huge vert ramp and hit one line in particular that was super long and too narrow to make a turn down. Straight runs are gnarly because you’re committed at the top of the run. There is no going back. When you get up to top speed you get that feeling of like, ‘Did I bite off too much?’ All you can do is just stand there and hope to get to the end.”
… on his scariest crash of last winter.
“I broke my arm filming with Absinthe this year, but that wasn’t my scariest fall. The scariest was the day before I broke my arm. I got up on a face where I was gonna hit a double, but I got clipped off my feet by my sluff. I did some big cartwheels. At one point I did a double cartwheel and probably dropped 80 feet between rotations. It was all fine, but I was definitely shaken.”
… on why he started his climate change foundation, Protect Our Winters.
“We as pro snowboarders have a large carbon footprint. I wanted to help offset that footprint by giving back to the environment, but I didn’t feel a connection to any of the climate change foundations. I started P.O.W. as a foundation that the winter sports community can relate to. Our main goal is to issue grants supporting climate change education in schools and projects that reduce the amount of greenhouse gases.”
… on his goals for the coming winter.
“I have a handful of peaks and lines that I’m hoping to hit. To get to them will require a lot more effort. In a lot of my usual zones we have been stuck at, say, one particular line. This season I have a burning desire to get past those areas and broaden my circle of terrain. There is also a photo that I have that Doug Coombs took of the ‘be all end all’ spine wall. We’re not totally sure where it is, but we’re hoping to track it down, and ride it if conditions are right. It’s deep ” either Uzbekistan or Russia.”
… on an influential pit stop driving to his first pro snowboard contest in 1991.
“On the way to my first pro comp I stopped in Jackson Hole (Wyo.) to visit my brothers. That totally changed my perspective on snowboarding. I didn’t want to win the contest anymore. I wanted to be a dishwasher and ride at Jackson every day. But I started doing well racing, so it took me until 1998 before I quit racing and moved to Jackson.”
… on the downtown Truckee board graphic from his 2005-’06 Rossignol pro model snowboard.
“I had done an Alaska-inspired graphic and a Jackson-inspired one, so I wanted to do something with Tahoe. I was driving into Truckee after a trip when it came to me. The artist, John Copeland, drew it based on a photo off a Truckee visitors guide. It ended up being one of my favorite board graphics.”
… on where the P.O.W. proceeds collected at the Nevada City Absinthe Films premiere on Sept. 11.
“The proceeds from this particular premiere will go to a rainforest fund. From a worldwide standpoint, protecting and reforesting the rainforest is something that riders from all over the world can get behind. We’re focused on one of the oldest sections of Amazon rainforest on the Atlantic side of Brazil. It is one of the most bio-diverse forests in the world, but over 95 percent of it has been cut down.”
… on splitboarding.
“I love my splitboard. I hope to inspire more people to get out there on splits. Between myself and some top Euro freeriders, we’re ready to wave that splitboard flag. I’m not doing it overnight, but I’m also starting to change my world of filming and shooting to a splitboard world.”
… on the beauty of freeriding.
“The beauty of freeriding is it’s endless. There is always better ways to ride these mountains and there is always going to be.”
… on why he chose to focus on filming.
“Early on I realized that I would have more control of my destiny filming because there is no faking it. The photo world seemed a little more about who you knew. Magazine editors played a huge role. But the film companies have always just wanted the best footage. I knew if I threw down hard enough on film I was going to be in the movie.”
… on why Tahoe is an awesome training ground for riding in Alaska.
“It’s funny because I was pretty jaded towards Jackson Hole for a long time, that it’s the ultimate place to train for Alaska. But I started riding more and more around Tahoe the last few seasons and it’s really helped out my snowboarding in Alaska. There’s a lot of lift-serviced steeps around here that I can go out and hit on a smaller board and make five 55-degree turns over and over. I could straight-run these spines, but I work them and get a ton of turns in. That steep turn is the same whether you’re on a hundred-foot Tahoe spine or a thousand-foot spine in Alaska.”
… on the path that led him to settle in Truckee.
“My first time to Tahoe was in my senior year of high school in 1992. I rented a place on the west shore of Donner lake with 14 other guys. From ’93 to ’98 I was living on the road, gear stashed all over the west, but largely based in Tahoe renting rooms all over. When it came time to buy in 2000, we bought in Truckee. The weather, the lakes, the stability of the snow and the diversity of people is why I stayed. For a mountain town Truckee is pretty diverse compared to Jackson Hole or some of those other small towns.”
… on his breakthrough film debut.
“My first video part was in Standard Films’ TB6. I had three shots from Valdez, Alaska, that closed the movie. The ‘Flatirons’ shot was one of the gnarliest lines I’ve ever hit. I rode this big open face with a slanted chute at the bottom. My idea was to sluff the whole face, get into the chute and have my sluff blow me through. Everything went exactly as planned, but when I got in the chute my sluff was way bigger than I expected. The snow came over my head and hit me like a cannon. I took a good ride through the chute but ended up coming out of the smoke at the bottom on my feet. Going to the Standard Films’ TB6 premiere I wasn’t even sure if I was in the movie. Finally I came up at the end and that last shot got the loudest cheer I have ever heard in a movie theater. That was a good moment.”
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