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René Gross Kærskov

When René Gross Kærskov told his wife that he wanted to try parachuting, she was not too keen on the idea—but understanding her husband’s stubborn nature, she conceded to let him do just one jump.

“I figured if I only get to do it once, it’s not going to be in Pasadena,” says the co-CEO of the Los Angeles–based design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), which conceived interiors for the Four Seasons Beijing, the Beverly Hills Hotel renovation, and dozens of other renowned properties worldwide. “I had to find a place that would be really different.” And that is how the 50-year-old Dane ended up in a helicopter with a small group of Russians over the North Pole.

“It was really windy and the boss of the expedition was not going to fly up again and waste fuel, so he said, ‘It’s now or never.’ I remember freezing my butt off flying up, but when it came time to jump, the adrenaline made me pretty warm. Your mind detaches from your body in situations like that.”

Kærskov doesn’t pursue activities like parachuting over the North Pole simply for the adrenaline rush. He is driven by a die-hard competitive spirit. “But I’m not necessarily competing with others,” he says. “I like to compete with myself. Finding new personal limits is really what drives me.”

When listening to Kærskov describe some of his pursuits, it becomes very clear that pushing boundaries is a big part of his everyday life—both in business and in his adventures. He started at HBA as an office clerk at its London branch 27 years ago, going on to become CFO and then COO. Now as co-CEO, he oversees HBA’s 25 international offices and has helped grow the company from 175 to 1,500 employees worldwide, and from $20 million to more than $127 million in annual revenue.

One of Kærskov’s grueling physical activities outside of work is running marathons—which he has done on all seven continents. When he was in Antarctica, where he also visited the South Pole, a snowstorm prevented him and a group of 20 others from running the marathon. But he wasn’t going to let that stop him. With the group’s escape plane just 8 hours away, Kærskov decided to run 1 mile from camp and back 13 times—the distance equivalent of a marathon. “The first time I came back, one Norwegian skier came out of the tent and took a picture of this silly guy going back and forth,” he recalls. “More and more people came out every time I came back. I did manage to run it, with about half an hour left before the plane arrived.”

Kærskov has also broken the sound barrier in a MiG-29, crossed the barrier into North Korea, and experienced zero gravity—the latter as training for his eventual trip to space with Virgin Galactic. “I signed up 11 years ago as one of the first guys,” he says. “I think of it as the ultimate adventure.”

As Virgin Galactic is still flight testing its latest spacecraft, VSS Unity, Kærskov has begun planning his next adventure, which is not all that much less lofty than space travel. Next January, he will embark on a journey to climb the world’s seven tallest volcanoes, starting with Mount Sidley in Antarctica.

“I can do it because it’s there,” he says. “When I was growing up, I would never say that I was the smartest kid in school or the most technical kid in sports, but I would always keep going, not stopping when others would get tired or bored or give up."

"Once I set a goal for myself, I know I will make it happen.”

—René Gross Kærskov

RENÉ’S SPACE-TRAINING SCHEDULE

AUGUST 2006:
Van Nuys, Calif.
L-39 jet flight experience; g-force training.

JANUARY 2007:
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
First weightlessness zero-g training.

JUNE 2007:
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Second weightlessness zero-g training.

JULY 2007:
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
MiG-29 jet flight, pulling 8 gs at Mach 2, breaking sound barrier.

OCTOBER 2007:
Philadelphia, Penn.
NASTAR centrifuge training; medical testing and space-flight simulations at 6 gs.

OCTOBER 2008:
Van Nuys, Calif.
L-39 jet flight experience;aerobatic and g-force training.

MAY 2009:
Mojave Desert, Calif.
MiG-15 and L-39 jet flights; aerobatic flight training.

SEPTEMBER 2011:
Washington, D.C.
Third weightlessness zero-g training.

Fullerton, Calif.
Pitts S-2C aerobatic flight training, pulling 6 gs and rolling more than 400 degrees per second.

MAY 2014:
Philadelphia, Penn
NASTAR centrifuge training; three tours of space-flight simulators, pulling up to 6 gs.

AUGUST 2006:
Van Nuys, Calif.
L-39 jet flight experience; g-force training.

JANUARY 2007:
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
First weightlessness zero-g training.

JUNE 2007:
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Second weightlessness zero-g training.

JULY 2007:
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
MiG-29 jet flight, pulling 8 gs at Mach 2, breaking sound barrier.

OCTOBER 2007:
Philadelphia, Penn.
NASTAR centrifuge training; medical testing and space-flight simulations at 6 gs.

OCTOBER 2008:
Van Nuys, Calif.
L-39 jet flight experience;aerobatic and g-force training.

MAY 2009:
Mojave Desert, Calif.
MiG-15 and L-39 jet flights; aerobatic flight training.

SEPTEMBER 2011:
Washington, D.C.
Third weightlessness zero-g training.

Fullerton, Calif.
Pitts S-2C aerobatic flight training, pulling 6 gs and rolling more than 400 degrees per second.

MAY 2014:
Philadelphia, Penn
NASTAR centrifuge training; three tours of space-flight simulators, pulling up to 6 gs.

SEPTEMBER 2011:
Washington, D.C.
Third weightlessness zero-g training.

Fullerton, Calif.
Pitts S-2C aerobatic flight training, pulling 6 gs and rolling more than 400 degrees per second.

MAY 2014:
Philadelphia, Penn
NASTAR centrifuge training; three tours of space-flight simulators, pulling up to 6 gs.

Rene's Gear Essentials

“There are two things I always bring to these extreme places: my red bottle and my green bottle. I learned this while I was stuck in a tent in Antarctica during a snowstorm. The green bottle is for drinking and the red one is for relieving yourself. And you better not suffer from any color blindness.”

“For running, the key is to have the basic stuff. Don’t try to run in a cotton shirt in minus 40 degrees. You’ve got to run in stuff you can sweat in. It’s all about the layering in the cold climates. For shoes, I run in New Balance—two or three sizes too big so you can fit plenty of socks in there.”

“At the Poles, Canada Goose jackets are a must. I think that’s pretty much my favorite thing for the cold climate: my big ol’ red Canada Goose jacket.

And I always bring a knife. Even a small pocket Swiss Army knife is good.”

René Gross Kærskov

The 2017 BMW M760i xDrive is not just the sixth-generation BMW 7 Series; it is also the first in the line of full-size sedans to feature BMW’s unparalleled M Performance.

That means it is driven beyond other high-performance sedans by the legendary M Performance Twin Power Turbo technology derived from BMW’s renowned Motorsports division. In the all-new M760i xDrive, that takes the form of a V-12 gasoline engine with an all-aluminum block and High Precision Injection for optimal combustion.

Engineered to perform, the M760i xDrive achieves 601 hp at 5,500 rpm and a peak torque of 590 lbs. The 8-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission with Launch Control enables the M760i xDrive to reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Combined with such standard features as the legendary M sport exhaust system, newly designed double-spoke 20-inch M light-alloy wheels, and M Sport brakes with blue calipers, the M760i xDrive defies the convention that the terms motorsport and sedan are mutually exclusive.

Priced from $153,800.
Reserve your BMW M760i xDrive today.

Masha Gordon

Maria “Masha” Gordon has always been curious about the world. And that curiosity has taken her to great heights—literally.

After growing up in the Soviet Union, studying in the United States, and working for 16 years on Wall Street as a fund manager and executive, she started climbing mountains. She got her climbing legs for five years and then decided to conquer Mount Everest, which she knew would take considerable preparation.

“As a person who managed risks on a daily basis—that being market risk or stock risk or performance risk—I broke down the problem,” says Gordon, recalling when she first decided to conquer Everest. “I asked myself, ‘Why do people perish on high altitude?’ It’s because of cold injuries, altitude sickness, and lack of endurance. So I devised drills and a routine around that, with many hours of preparation. When you think about top performers, they are people who can break down a problem that seems unattainable into small goals and get motivated to conquer that problem step by step.”

Gordon—who now lives in London and is a mother of two—took many small steps before climbing Everest, and then she started taking much bigger steps. In October 2015, she embarked on a journey to climb the tallest peak on every continent and ski to both the North and South Pole. The challenge is called the Explorer’s Grand Slam and Gordon wanted to do it faster than any woman had before.

“When you’re a fund manager, you compete against the broad market,” she says. “When you’re climbing, you compete against the mountain. In both, you’re exercising agility, you’re exercising resilience, and you’re fighting the elements. It’s that quality of inner competitiveness that undoubtedly helped me overcome the challenge.”

—Masha Gordon

Seven months and 19 days after she began, Gordon completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam, setting two Guinness World Records. She put her life on hold during that period, but she was able to see her family between climbs and called them via Skype throughout the journey, including from the Everest base camp.

“I think a key trait of successful people is being able to delegate without doubting, to empower people who work with you. In this case I think that helped me very much to balance motherhood with the quest and my ambition.”

—Masha Gordon

During her incredible journey, Gordon blogged about her experience on the website for her foundation, Grit&Rock, which she established to help underprivileged teenage women build grit, determination, and self-confidence through a yearlong mountaineering training program. In the charity's first year, 60 young women participated in the program, and last fall Grit&Rock launched three pilot programs in the United Kingdom.

'When I was thrown out of my comfort zone skiing to the South Pole, I asked myself. 'What allowed me, a woman in my 40s, to embark on this challenge?' I realized that I was able to tap into my mental resilience and endurance," says Gordon, recalling her motivation for creating Grit&Rock. "If we can develop these qualities in young women, we can help build the confidence of these girls, which lags significantly compared to boys of the same age. This so-called bravery deficit could be addressed through priming, and we could help inspire girls to break that ultimate ice ceiling."

Today, Gordon serves on the board of several firms and organizations, in addition to running her foundation, being a mother to her seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter, and preparing for her next adventure.

“I’m currently planning to climb an 8,500-meter peak called Makalu—which is just 400 meters short of Everest but with higher fatality rates,” says Gordon. “It’s about 10 miles away and I simply fell in love with the view of that mountain when I was climbing Everest. Fewer than 200 people in history have climbed it and very few women. After this amazing endurance test, I have obviously balanced it with continued professional life and my family, so I’m hoping for just two short expeditions a year—which will keep me keen, keep me fit, and help me have that beautiful life of those two worlds.”

Video produced prior to Gordon's Explorer’s Grand Slam journey.

To keep up with Gordon’s ongoing adventures, visit her website, Grit&Rock.com, and follow her on Instragram: @gritandrock

MASHA'S GEAR ESSENTIALS

“I love simple boots. I use Scarpa Mont Blanc boots, which are my favorite for the fourteeners [mountain peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet]. I think Scarpa has, hands down, the best high-altitude boots.”

“For crampons [ice-climbing boot clamps], I use Grivel. It’s an Italian brand, and those guys have made a lot of innovations and do fantastic gear.”

“I love Arc’teryx—for their harnesses and for clothes. Whether it’s climbing-range clothes or ski-range clothes, these guys are meticulous in their design. I’ve found that they last a long time, they look great, they have fantastic colors, and they are very amenable to that hard exercise we do.”

“For skis, I love Kästle. It’s the brand that the American skier Chris Davenport works with. It’s an Austrian brand and it was resuscitated 7 or 8 years ago. They’ve done amazing stuff with both backcountry skis and on-piste skis. People ask me what’s the best training for Himalayan peaks, and I think backcountry ski touring is fantastic because it forces you to get out and do the long days on the mountains, but to do it at the pace that you climb.”

Masha Gordon

Video footage by Danny Uhlmann

The 2017 BMW M760i xDrive delivers exceptional performance, but with great power comes a great obligation for superior comfort.

The M760i xDrive guarantees a luxurious driving experience with a lightweight carbon-fiber design for a low center of gravity that, paired with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, promises agility and dynamic handling. Among the intelligent-driving features of the M760i xDrive are BMW’s Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview suspension control and Dynamic Damper Control systems, which together virtually eliminate road vibration to offer the smoothest BMW cabin experience ever.

With industry-leading smart-driving features such as BMW’s Head-Up Display and iDrive 5.0 with touch display and gesture control, the M760i xDrive also presents the most intelligent cabin on the road. As with the exterior,the interior has both brain and brawn. Shaping the interior is a sense of sporting elegance thanks to carefully arranged M accents, including elements in brushed aluminum and pearl-gloss chrome, all of which accentuates an abundance of premium leather.

Priced from $153,800.
Build your BMW M760i xDrive today.

Jonathan
Harris

Whether he’s navigating the powdery slopes of Telluride, Colo., or the tech-hungry crowds at the Consumer Electronics Show, Jonathan Harris is a man on a mission.

As the senior vice president of“intergalactic” sales for GoPro, Harris, 52,has helped make the portable-camera brand a household name and expand its reach globally—and beyond.

“We were joking around with titles one day in a board meeting when we came up with that,” says Harris of his hyperbolic job title. “It was the same week that Felix Baumgartner made that crazy space jump, and he had GoPros strapped all over him. Someone said, ‘We’re out of this world,’ and so that’s where we came up with intergalactic.”

Photo courtesy of Wagner Custom Skis.

Photo courtesy of Wagner Custom Skis.

Although no GoPro has ventured outside the Milky Way (yet),the company’s growth rate has skyrocketed under Harris’s leadership. Since he joined the business in June 2010, GoPro’s annual revenue has grown from $19 million to $1.4 billion, and its retail presence has increased from some 2,300 stores worldwide to more than 30,000.

“When I started, we were essentially a blip on the radar as a digital-imaging company,”says Harris. “Now we’re the No. 2 or 3 camera company in the world. We’re everywhere from Bob’s Surf Shop to Walmart, and we distribute the product in more than 100 countries around the world.”

With GoPro, Harris has been to every continent except Antarctica and says that he travels a few hundred thousand miles per year. For domestic travel, Harris uses Wheels Up, a private air-charter program that he recently joined.

“I live in the southwestern corner of Colorado," he says, "which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it’s pretty inaccessible. This has allowed me flexibility and lets me get wherever I need to go on my terms."

When Harris isn’t traveling for work,he’s seeking adventure on the mountain. In warmer months, he is an avid mountain biker and climber. He has climbed about a dozen of Colorado’s fourteeners(mountain peaks with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet). “From my house, I stare at Mount Wilson, which is the design for the Coors Light label. That’s on my target to climb this summer.”

But his favorite pursuit is in winter,when he skis religiously. “I love skiing powder whenever I can grab it, and skiing in trees, of course,” he says. “Heli-skiing is always a blast, and I do that whenever I can. I love heli-skiing with the CMH crew up in Canada, and Telluride Helitrax out here is pretty awesome.”

Harris’s favorite mountain isTelluride, where he lives and has direct access to some of the finest skiing inNorth America. He also skis in Aspen. Colo.; Whistler, Canada; Jackson Hole,Wyo.; and Val d’Isère, France. But Telluride, he says, is tough to beat.

Photo courtesy of Wagner Custom Skis.

Photo courtesy of Wagner Custom Skis.

“Yesterday I was skiing powder and I had a really good line. Apparently I skied under a rope and found myself on one of the chutes here in Telluride but didn’t realize it at the time. I was pinned up there and I only had one choice, and that was down. So I just went for it.”

JONATHAN'S GEAR ESSENTIALS

“I have two sets of Wagner skis. And they are building a new pair of skis for me as we speak—probably a couple new pairs, actually. I’ve got everyone in the family on Wagner skis.

Harris with his daughter 

Harris with his daughter 

It’s been amazing. Honestly, it’s changed my wife’s skiing completely. She’s skiing like she’s an 18-year-old again. It’s so cool to see. The impact of the Wagner ski and how it’s designed for you really does make a difference. And I’m working on new boots. I’m in Lange ski boots right now.”

“I’ve got a quiver of bikes. I have a couple Reeb Fat Tires— that’s beer spelled backwards—plus a couple Santa Cruz bikes and a Specialized mountain bike. The Fat Tire on the snow is a blast. I haven’t gotten in to road biking yet. That might be on the list.”

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in its most progressive state.

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