In steeper terrain like Snowbird’s Silver Fox (a go-to fall line in the days after a storm, thanks to its sustained pitch and a tendency to stay buff when it hasn’t snowed in a while), I noticed a tendency for the Flagship to lock absolutely and unforgivingly into a turn—in some instances, coming to a complete, chattery stop when slowing for the choke in a narrow chute. In many cases, having confidence in a board’s ability to hold an edge is a good thing, but not when the goal is to quickly scrub speed. The Flagship does not like to make short-radius turns on anything but consistently soft snow. It seems to have two speeds: “Go,” followed abruptly by “Stop.”
Finding a snowboard that remains stable in the conditions that come hours and days after a storm is challenging, and this is where the Flagship performs best, yet also shows an unexpected weakness. As one would expect, the Jones plows through chop and remains stable and responsive at speed. It does, however, require a lot of attention and input from the rider; for a board as stiff as the Flagship, I have not found it to be proportionally damp.
The Jones rewards commitment to a line or a turn but does not forgive indecision, and will push back on a quick stop or unexpected change in direction. Personally, I felt the Flagship would benefit from the additional dampening, even at the expense of weight, as it’s not heavy for its class.
While the Flagship is an overall stiff ride tip-to-tail, it is very quick edge-to-edge and is not hard to turn once up to speed. I do notice that after spending time on other boards—both all-mountain and freeride (like the Never Summer Proto CT and Venture Odin)—the Flagship is also torsionally stiff and requires some commitment when weighting / unweighting from heel to toe, and vice versa.
In the kind of soft, untracked snow that I had in mind when picking up the Flagship, it has performed predictably well. The directional shape, relatively soft rockered nose, and setback stance help bring the board up to plane quickly and result in a very surfy ride with minimal effort. The downside to the directional shape, for me, is that while the Flagship can be ridden switch, it would rather not be. While it’s clearly not designed to perform like a twin, I often ride flat heelside traverses in areas like Snowbird’s Tiger Tail switch, and the Jones doesn’t make it easy.
No one is going to mistake the Flagship for a freestyle deck, but it does a great job handling natural jibs and drops and allows me to land with my weight more centered on the than other boards in my quiver, like the Never Summer Proto CT and Capita DOA, and handles bumpy runouts more confidently.
The Flagship has a low swing weight for its class. Spins on natural features are not a problem, and while it does take a bit of muscle to get it around in trees, I’m not going to attribute that to weight.
Also, while I wouldn’t say that the Flagship lacks pop, new carbon stringers for 12/13 should bring a little more playfulness to the Flagship.
Overall, it took me some time to come to terms with the Jones Flagship, as anyone who was around me when I first bought it can attest. This is a board designed by Jeremy Jones for Jeremy Jones, and that’s ultimately how it rides. Jeremy and Jones team riders like Ralph Backstrom and Ryland Bell choose the Flagship (and its split iteration, the Solution) on high-consequence lines for a reason: it both requires and rewards a lot of attention and input from the rider.
Those looking for a heavy, damp, easy ride will most likely be disappointed by the Flagship. That said, riders looking for a snowboard that they can’t outperform and that they can depend on in virtually any condition will probably feel right at home on the Flagship. If I know I’m going to spend the day chasing friends on skis who are generally faster than I am, and in terrain ranging from blower and chopped-up pow to ice, I reach for the Flagship and remind myself to just point it.