If I’m being honest, as recently as just a few years ago I looked at fresh-groomed corduroy with contempt. As if the deep, deep powder day was the ideal experience and if there wasn’t snow in the forecast, well, better to search out pow stashes in trees or lap the park exclusively.
Now, not that floating down the mountain getting fresh tracks on a powder day isn’t still the pinnacle of the snowboarding experience, and one of the best feelings on Earth, but I recently heard something that has changed my outlook entirely. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten who said it, but it went something to the effect that if you love snowboarding, you must find ways to love all aspects of snowboarding. Because not every day is a bluebird powder day. It sounds obvious, but of late I’ve internalized this idea.
For me, that means learning to appreciate corduroy – and with the right equipment, there’s actually a lot to love. Which brings me to Jones Snowboards’ Ultra Mind Expander.
When Jones first launched its Surf Series several years ago, the traditional Mind Expander was one of three shapes Jeremy Jones himself had dialed in with San Diego-based surfboard shaper Chris Christenson for release. Its purpose then and now was to be a forgiving, rockered-out, playful board with considerable flex for an alternative all-mountain approach.
Then, this time last year, Jones took the Mind Expander, added its trademark Ultra construction (which includes lots of carbon fiber to create a stiffer board), and did it with camber. If the Mind Expander cruises the mountain, the Ultra Mind Expander crushes it.
I had the privilege of testing the 158cm Ultra Mind Expander on a powder day and on groomers so far this season and can say that the thing loves to go fast, dig in, and fly.
Designed With the Hi-fi Rider in Mind
Traditionally, a surfier approach typically means linking turns and flowing down the mountain – in other words, sacrificing speed for style. The Ultra Mind Expander breaks the mold in that respect. While still feeling surfy on groomers, the thing had incredible snap out of turns and held an edge incredibly well, and wanted to go fast. Period.
Whereas on other boards I’d boot out putting them hard on edge, with the 260mm waist width on the 158 Ultra Mind Expander, I didn’t boot out once.
In powder, the Ultra Mind Expander also combines many of the aspects that make the traditional Mind Expander a great board in deep snow, including a set-back stance and large spoon nose for float, with premium materials. Arguably, it’s less user-friendly than the traditional Mind Expander in pow, though, which is one potential knock on the Ultra.
One thing I loved about the Ultra is it was the ideal board on days where conditions went from a foot of fresh in the morning to tracked-out variable snow in the afternoon. No need to ride your pow board to score fresh tracks then swap it out when runs start to get chopped up – in fact the Ultra seems to excel in the latter.
So, if you’re looking to embrace the “surfy” trend without skimping on performance when it comes to riding fast and hard, look no further.