Coping with no cold

Unseasonably warm weather has left winter enthusiasts with little to do this year.

Nearly all of the city's ice rinks have been closed for much of the season, and sledders, skiers and snowshoers have only been able to enjoy a couple days of solid snow cover.

Below-freezing temperatures aren't out of the picture this winter, but there's a good chance of maintaining above-normal temperatures through March, said Mike Bardou, a local meteorologist for the National Weather Service. No significant snowfall is on the horizon either, but long-term outlooks aren't always accurate, Bardou said.

Winter event planners aren't losing faith, though. They're making due with Mother Nature's minimal offerings and keeping their fingers crossed for chilly, snowy days ahead. Here's the lowdown on a few Southwest events:

Kite Festival cancelled

Flying kites on frozen Lake Harriet is what the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival is all about, but open water on the lake caused planners to cancel it this year.

The 6th annual kite festival was originally scheduled for Jan. 13, and then moved to Jan. 20.

Demonstrations from the Minnesota Kite Society, Horse and wagon rides, skating, snowshoeing, hot cocoa, marshmallow roasting and a medallion hunt were to be part of the event. A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ice fishing expo was also planned.

Event organizer and Lyndale Farmstead Park Director Ann Lynch said the kite festival has never been cancelled because of poor ice. It was cancelled once because of cold temperatures.

For more information on the kite festival cancellation, call 370-4948 or visit www.minneapolisparks.org.

Pond Hockey Championships moved to Lake Nokomis

Open water on Lake Calhoun pushed the second annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships to the northwest side of Lake Nokomis.

The event is the nation's largest pond hockey tournament, featuring 25 rinks and more than 200 teams. Teams are split into open, women's, senior men's and rink rat divisions. The rink rat division was added this year for less-experienced players, said championships spokeswoman Claudine Galloway. Many of last year's competitors proved to be pros on the ice, she said.

The round-robin tournament will feature four-on-four, no-goalie games. Teams will compete for the golden shovel, which is essentially the Stanley Cup of pond hockey.

But Galloway said there's more to the event than competition.

&#8220Kids rarely play outdoors these days,” she said. &#8220We're just trying to keep pond hockey alive.”

For more information on the championships, go to www.uspondhockey.com.

Loppet lowdown

This winter's warm temperatures haven't melted the spirits of John Munger, director of the 35-kilometer cross-country ski race known as the City of Lakes

Loppet scheduled for Feb. 3-4.

&#8220With a month to go and that month being January, we're not feeling too bad about things,” Munger said.

He said snow conditions weren't excellent last year either. Organizers relied on a few inches of snow received days before the race to make the event happen. Artificial snow is dumped in Uptown for the finish.

Thousands of skiers participate in the Loppet, which begins at Theodore Wirth Park and winds through woods, parks and lakes before ending in Uptown. For more information on the race, go to www.cityoflakesloppet.com.