Our little town of Tahoe City was devastated on Feb. 24 by the loss of Kevin Murnane, manager of the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. He was one of those rare individuals whose friendly attitude and passion for his job touched just about everyone in town. He didn’t really need a last name; he was simply “Kevin from the Nordic Center” — the guy the Tahoe cross-country skiing scene revolved around.

Kevin grew up in Sebastopol, Calif. as the youngest of four siblings where he spent his childhood riding BMX bikes and playing competitive tennis. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he followed his older sister to the Montecito-Sequoia Lodge on the edge of Sequoia National Park. There he taught tennis and cross-country skiing. At Montecito, Kevin discovered the two biggest loves of his life: managing a cross-country ski operation and an Australian woman by the name of Valli Dart who would become his wife. Later, two more important loves would arrive in the form of his daughter Lily, 11, and son Kai, 8.

In 2000, Kevin and Valli were hired to operate the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area. They created a relaxed and friendly place with excellent grooming and a strong emphasis on giving children the opportunity to discover cross-country skiing. Kevin often headed out cross-country skiing early in the morning because he knew once he passed through the doors of Tahoe XC he would most likely be too busy to get back out. He raced in a number of cross-country ski races and, in recent years, joined Valli competing in triathlons. He was set to race in the 2014 Lake Tahoe Ironman when it was cancelled at the last minute due to smoke.

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I worked with Kevin for more than 10 years. He was always kind and helpful to everybody who came in the door. Kevin had a dry sense of humor and an inventive mind, which was primarily focused on coming up with ways to make the ski experience more fun. Kevin was simply an incredibly warm and nice guy who was genuinely interested in the lives of his friends. He was a close friend to a lot of people, all of whom will sorely miss him.

~ Tim Hauserman teaches cross-country skiing and directs the Strider Glider program at the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area.

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