Cross-country ski community devastated by loss of beloved Tahoe XC manager

By Tim Hauserman 

Kevin Murnane 1971-2015

The North Lake Tahoe community and cross-country skiers everywhere lost a great one on February 24, 2015 with the death of 44 year old Kevin Murnane.

Kevin with his wife Valli have managed Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area in Tahoe City since 2000. The home to The Great Ski Race, Tahoe Cross-Country has become a hugely popular place to cross-country ski. To a great extent the credit for that popularity should go to the passion, hard work and inventive mind of Kevin Murnane. He was all about providing the greatest experience to the skier. That meant a focus on top notch grooming. But it especially meant creating a friendly and helpful atmosphere.

Karen Honeywell says that discovering Tahoe XC “completely changed our family. It became our home away from home. It’s where our community is. We’ve heard it called the Happiest Place on Earth, and it’s been true.”

Kevin invented an on-snow grill that could be pulled behind a snowmobile allowing groups to dine on the trail. Seeing parents struggling with dragging their pulk sleds from the car to snow, he had an on-snow pulk sled locker built for parents to be able to leave the sleds at the lodge for the winter. When Tahoe XC expanded into a mountain biking operation a few years ago, the trail network was notoriously easy to get lost. Kevin worked with the government agencies who controlled the land to get approval to install a series of easy to understand maps on the trail system.

Matt Nutt lives in New Hampshire now, but he worked at Tahoe XC in the past and says, “working at Tahoe XC was hands down the best job I ever had, and that’s 100% the result of the atmosphere Kevin and Valli have fostered.  Kevin was so creative and original in his approach to improving the Nordic Center.  When I saw the mobile grill for the first time, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It is such a brilliant idea, something most folks would never even begin to consider feasible. To Kevin, not having a mobile kitchen was never an option, and he made it happen.”

Heather Rantz, says, “Tahoe XC is such a special place. There is a unique vibe there, it just feels right. On many occasions as I skied the trails peacefully, I would just feel all the love that went into keeping the place in tip top form. Kevin and Valli’s dedication to the ski experience there is undeniable, and his presence there will be sorely missed.”

I have worked at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area for over ten years. Kevin spent his days answering question after question, and always making everyone feel like they really mattered. He was an incredible multi-tasker with a head full of an enormous amount of information (Unfortunately I failed in my effort to get him to write it all down). The Happiest Place on Earth has been less happy these last few nearly snowless winters. But it got much, much sadder with the passage of Kevin. We have, however, an amazing community, who love Tahoe XC, and next year, when we sure as hell better get more snow, things will get better.

Tahoe second home owner Bill Kerr from Syracuse, New York says that “the spirit of community and well being that Kevin catalyzed and nurtured at Tahoe XC” transformed his life. “I don’t want to imagine what life would be like without the friends this part time Tahoe resident made because of the community that Kevin created. I hope that Valli can muster the strength to continue Kevin’s legacy.”

The Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association (Tahoe XC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established to promote and develop the sport of cross country skiing through educational activities. Find out about the many programs designed to get children and adults involved in this fun healthy sport, and learn how you can help carry on Kevin’s legacy by getting involved: