FLAGSHIP FOR LIFE
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thanking this board at the bottom of a line.
That was Jeremy Jones’ description of the Flagship in the original 2010-11 Jones catalog.
May sound like a bold claim, but if you’ve ever ridden a Flagship, you probably know exactly what he’s talking about.
Control is a fine line at the outer edges of freeriding, and if you’re a rider who enjoys tempting the dragon, you better be carrying a big sword. The Flagship has always been that board. The ray of light in a tunnel of chundery darkness, the ‘get out of jail free’ card in a landing full of bomb holes, the miracle worker that has saved so many barely in control riders from catastrophic crashes, that the board could reason to be sainted.
Luca Pandolfi hanging it out there in Peru.
Photo - Matteo Calcamuggi
Luca's board of choice for icy Peruvian peaks? The Carbon Flagship 168.
Photo - Matteo Calcamuggi
From 2010 to its tenth anniversary 2020 edition, the Flagship has remained the foundation of the Jones board line because it’s humbly the most high performance board we make. Offering unmatched stability and powerful edge control at speed, it’s the board thousands of riders around the world strap into when they’re challenging themselves to ride lines at their limit. And that’s exactly what Jeremy designed it for, the Flagship was made to help you push the boundaries of your freeriding to the next level.
The three original Jones team riders who were the first to get hooked on the Flagship’s stunning performance were Mitch Toelderer, Ryland Bell and Luca Pandolfi. All three of these guys chase steep lines down technical faces and spine walls that demand precision control at top speed. The Flagship fits these guys riding style so perfectly that roots have grown out of their boots and into the wood top sheet. For the last ten winters, Mitch, Ryland and Luca have ridden the Flagship nearly every day of the season.
To celebrate the board’s 10th Anniversary we caught up with these three Flagship For Life riders to hear about their first experiences riding the Flagship and what makes this board so f#%king amazing for charging down a mountain.
"I have a very clear memory of my first day riding the Flagship in 2010. I rode it down the Bec des Rosses! I got the board the day before the Verbier Extreme, but I didn’t feel comfortable riding it in the contest having never tried it. The day after the contest I climbed back up the Bec and rode a few steep lines off the top to check it out. It felt sooo good from the first moment I dropped in. I had been riding a little longer boards, but the Flag 164 felt really natural and comfortable despite the shorter length. The early rise nose and tail made the board so quick to react which was really nice for riding technical terrain like the Bec."
Scenes from the 2010 day Mitch Toelderer fell in love with the Flagship. His first day riding it in Verbier.
Photos - Jancsi Hadik
With an eye for steep spine lines and tranny finder drops, Mitch and the Flagship were instant BFF
Photos - Josef Mallaun
“I tried the Mountain Twin and Hovercraft, but the Flagship was definitely the board for me. From riding fast down steep terrain to landing drops, it worked really well for my riding style. It’s still my all-around number one board. I like to ride other boards occasionally too, but not in every snow condition. If I don’t know how the conditions are going to be, I take the Flagship. If I can only take one board, I take the Flagship.”
Mitch won the Freeride World Tour in 2011 charging contest lines on the Flagship.
Mitch fully committed on Rattlesnake in the Chugach, AK.
Photo - Court Leve
The Flagship is built for people who like to ride fast in variable conditions. When the face is half powder and half hard snow, which happens a lot on the Freeride World Tour, you don’t want a board that’s too wide or too mushy. You need a board that floats and edges equally well at speed, that’s the Flagship.
I have so many amazing memories of riding the Flagship. For sure I rode a majority of the best runs of my life on the Flag. One of my favorite Flagship lines ever was this crazy face in the Chugach called Rattlesnake that I rode filming with Warren Milller.
Ryland Bell has ridden more days on a Flagship than any other person on earth, by a long shot! He was also one of the first riders Jeremy asked to test the pre-production Flagship prototypes in 2009. The Solution splitboard prototypes didn’t arrive until later that year so for that winter he snow shoed everywhere he went in the backcountry and threw down on a proto Flag every single day of his season.
Above & below: Ryland cutting his teeth in the Tahoe backcountry circa 2009.
Photos - Seth Lightcap
The Flagship was a game changer
“The Flagship was a game changer for me. I’d never ridden anything but full camber boards until I got on it. The early rise nose and tail was really key. It set you in a position where you weren’t going over the handle bars in pow or stomping cliffs nearly as much. I remember Jeremy telling me that one of the original inspirations for early rise was to make it easier to ride spines. The big contact point out front on a full camber board made it difficult to cross from spine to spine. The early rise nose eased the transition of the contact point and made it less catchy which translated to a huge performance improvement riding steeps.”
– Ryland Bell
Greasing the infamous Tom Burt Spine in Tahoe.
Photos - Abe Blair
Below: Teeing off in Tahoe riding an early Flagship prototype. Photo - Seth Lightcap
“The special thing about the Flagship is that it has the float of a big board with a small board feel. I’ve always ridden the Carbon Flagship 164. It turns like a 160, but floats and charges like it’s true size. I set up my Flag a little differently than most people, though. I ride it as centered as possible by putting my front binding on the furthest forward insert holes and sliding my binding plate all the way to the side. By pushing my front foot forward, my back binding ends up forward of the reference stance holes on the back inserts. This puts my back foot at a higher point in the camber so I can push into it and get more pop.”
Ryland rips a wild line pioneered by his mentor Dave Hatchett - the mighty Mendenhall Towers outside of Juneau, AK.
Photo - Abe Blair
“Back in the day, brands were just calling their longer, normal camber boards “freeride” boards. The Flagship was the first proper freeride board I ever rode and it opened my mind to a new way to ride big faces - fast! The flex, profile and shape made it so much easier to turn and change edges riding fast on the steeps.”
Italian freerider Luca Pandolfi has ridden first descents around the globe on his Flagship including several on the Mont Blanc massif where he lives in Chamonix. Luca is a tall, powerful rider and has always ridden the biggest Flagship we make - currently the 169W.
Luca drops in below the cables on his all-time favorite mountain, the Hellbroner in Courmayeur, Italy.
I’m in love with the Hellbroner and the Flagship is the perfect board for that type of terrain. You can ride fast down the 45 degree couloirs and faces in the upper section and still play around in the woods and pillows on the lower section.
From pack mules to the peaks, Luca took his Carbon Flagship on an expedition to Peru in 2015. Photos - Matteo Calcamuggi
“The Flagship is a board that allows you to push your limits. It’s a board that I recommend to all my friends and other riders, from beginners to intermediates to experts. It’s a board that will make you a better rider no matter your skill level.”
Luca rode his original Flagship on the first snowboard descent of the Coolidge Couloir on Monte Viso in 2011.
Photo - Cedric Bernardini