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Melting Snow Tough On Ski Shops, Outdoor Enthusiasts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- While the snow is piling up on the East Coast, we're enjoying temperatures in the 40's here in the Twin Cities.

The metro area is more than 11 inches of snow below average so far this season, and Mother Nature has some explaining to do to the cross-country ski community.

Equipment sales at Finn Sisu ski shop in Lauderdale are suffering the effects of this virtually snow-less season.

"There is a clear decline," owner Ahvo Taipale said. "On an average year, it is usually generally very good, but this year there is a definite weakness."

Clearance sales are a small start, but the best way to perk up patronage would be a solid snowfall. '

People are looking for weather, and then they purchase," Taipale said. "When there is no weather, a discount doesn't really help."

For Mary Luoma, a ski instructor at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, the lack of wintry weather is a challenge for her students.

"We've got all the high school teams skiing on basically man-made snow at three different places," she said, "and it's been pretty difficult, it's very crowded."

A cross-country trek across natural snow is preferable for cross-country skier Marcus Magnuson.

"A person really has to search out snow if you're looking to ski on natural snow," he said. "Fortunately in the Twin Cities, we have several areas that make snow, and that's really been a lifeline for skiers."

The City of Lakes Loppet needs snow this weekend, and since Mother Nature isn't helping out, they're making their own. The snow stockpile is located at Lake Calhoun, ready for distribution along the Loppet's sprasely covered course. 

The Loppet organization will announce their complete plan B by mid-week. It could include a change in course location from the chain of lakes to Theodore Wirth Park, like they did in 2012. And the Comcast Luminary Loppet may be modified to be a walking only event.

The dry and mild weather is also a letdown for ice skaters and pond hockey players. On Monday, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board closed all outdoor ice rinks until further notice due to the unseasonable warmth.

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