The Future of Skiing: Jeremy Jones

The big mountain skier and founder of Protect Our Winters

Apr 15, 2013
Outside Magazine

   Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Jones

In 25 years, we’ll be in the hands of the next generation—the generation of kids that Protect Our Winters has been talking to at school. That gives me some hope that we’ll see some definitive change as a society. Our school programs lay it out: this is the world you’re growing up in, here are facts, here are solutions.  We’re working to raise awareness in kids, working to get the next generation to embrace the outdoors and the mountains. It’s a simple concept, but a super important one.

I dream that in 25 years we’ll be fully embracing green tech, clean energy, energy independence and everything along those lines. But if our ski areas all go to solar and nothing else does, it doesn’t mean a damn thing. In a perfect world, ski areas and skiing and snowboarding come together and demand we make changes. Collectively, we could be a powerful force and have a big voice on Capitol Hill, with the ultimate goal being clean energy throughout every facet of life.

On the equipment front, we’ve come a long way. Jones Snowboards uses FSC wood cores, recycled sidewalls and bases, wood topsheets. The next improvements are going to be trickier; the big stumbling blocks are the resins used in laying up boards, the glues. In 25 years, there will be a spotlight on manufacturers environmental practices. In the future, companies won’t be able to get away with cost effective prices with no concern for the environment. Skiers and riders are going to demand environmentally produced product, and all products will fit this description. Sustainably harvested wood cores will be the norm, not a category.

In 25 years, the snowboard boot/binding interface will change—we’ll have other options. I would have lost a bet 20 years ago that that interface would be different. I am willing to re-up on that bet.

In 25 years, the backcountry segment will have grown significantly. It’s already happening. Sugarloaf, Maine, did a sidecountry expansion, Burnt Mountain. It doubles the resort’s terrain without a single new lift. It’s progressive thinking. Fifteen years ago, I’d ask, "Why didn’t that lift go to top?" Now I like it better if there is a half-hour hike. Closed gates need to go away. Resorts need to embrace the rich 40-year old who embraces powder and wants to go into the backcountry.

Everyone will have an airbag in 25 years and we won’t be bombing for avy control. We’ll have automated snow control, like on Teton Pass, but everywhere.

The next generation will be full tech and social media addicts, but eventually this trend will ebb and flow, and social media will be lame. We’re coming into time of snow decline, but it’ll be offset by punk rock kids who think going outside is cool.

A huge thing I dream of is that mountains will embrace snowparks. Right now parks are one-dimensional. I’d like to have skatebowl-inspired parks, like in Japan—surfy-snake enhanced groomers. You need to be really advanced to go high, but anyone can ride them. There will be quarter pipes cut into the edge of trail. Instead of smoothing out the terrain, it’ll be an enhanced cat track with playful elements.

Jeremy Jones is the owner of Jones Snowboards, Big Mountain Rider and founder of Protect Our Winters