Supercharged woman of watercross

Krista Maki-Zurn, the supercharged woman of watercross


Krista-Maki Zurn, leaning on her snowmobile that she uses for racing in watercross.

Krista Maki-Zurn is one of the most influential women in the world of watercross. — Photo courtesy Kat Kitchen all occasions photography

When we think watercross, it is impossible not to think Krista Maki-Zurn, the supercharged woman of watercross. She is simply unforgettable, with a personality larger than life.

This woman has been racing hard since 2009. In 2010 she won the world championship, making her the first female world champ in circuit history. In 2011 she won the 800cc season points championship.

As snowmobile watercross grows in popularity, racers from around Canada are eager to participate. Most Canadian races are in Ontario and Quebec, but the craze is moving west, with many a recreational rider posting Youtube videos of water skipping and watercross. 

Maki-Zurn competes in the International Watercross Association, based in the United States. There are six races in the IWA circuit, and races attract up to 25,000 spectators. 

If you are considering watercross, Maki-Zurn has this advice to give:

Everyone sinks

Everyone sinks. It happens all the time. The races are jam-packed full of racers, all vying for top spot, so it is inevitable that everyone will sink at one time or another. The sleds are outfitted with a buoy system. Some have a buoy on a rope adjusted for the depth of the lake or pond, so in the event of a sinking experience, the buoy will pop up and retrievers can locate the sled with ease. Maki-Zurn’s seat acts as a buoy and pops off in the event of sinking.

Pull the tether

You must shut down the engine before the ship goes down, urges Maki-Zurn. Pull the tether cord immediately to prevent the engine from ingesting water. In the event you do sink and your tether has been pulled to shut down the motor, the rest of the process is relatively painless. A big pontoon boat outfitted with a winch locates the floating buoy and pulls the snowmobile up, then transports it to shore. Maki-Zurn’s sled has a crank drain to easily drain any remaining water out. You can take out the plugs and the belt and use a high impact drill to spin the clutches to dry them out, then put it all back together with new gas. After that it’s literally game on. Racers can have their sleds back in action in less than 15 minutes, with very little impact to engine integrity. 

Race position

Maki-Zurn was coached by her husband, world champion Shawn Zurn, along with others who urge racers to ride in a seated position. Standing does give you better control of your snowmobile, but from a seated position you’ll prevent your sled from catwalking, allowing it to immediately plane and create better momentum on the water. 

“Races are won by mere ski tips, so every advantage counts,” said Maki-Zurn.

Riders will quickly adjust to the seated position and realize it's a racing advantage, she said.

Learn to turn

Even if you’re not racing ovals, you have to learn to turn. Many places do not have a shore to land on, even in drag races, so you have to cross the finish line and turn immediately back to the starting point. It’s so much different than simple water skipping. There is dedicated skill and steep competition to contend with. 

Crashing hurts

If you’ve ever been tubing and have skidded across the water, you know it hurts. That is at a maximum speed of about 60 miles per hour, while sledcross reaches speeds up to about 80. It hurts like cement, so wear the equipment and brace yourself. Even on water it can be a bumpy ride. 

Maki-Zurn had a frightening experience. She endo-ed her sled at about 66 miles per hour, choosing to go down with the ship rather than send her sled crashing into a shoreline lined with spectators. It hurt, to say the least.

For more information on watercross you can visit the IWA site at or check

You can find Krista Maki-Zurn and her GLA performance team on Facebook.

Krista Maki-Zurn's sponsors:

GLH Performance & GLH Dyno Services
C&A Pro Skis
The Great Outdoors
U.S. Chrome NiCom Plating
The Great Outdoors
The Pump House
Sled Descent
Sled Bitch Apparel
Team Aftermarket / Team Industries
Williams MT Construction and Maintenance
Beaver Liquor
Project Mayhem Power Sports
Rehab Wraps
Midwest Sledders
Wausau CrossFit

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