Watercross World Championship: Who To Watch This Weekend

Screenshot from the Grantsburg World Championship website.

The championship of snowmobile watercross racing is this weekend in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. With it comes some of the most highly competitive racing you’ll ever get to see, and you can watch it while wearing shorts and a muscle shirt and sitting in a lawn chair with a beer at your side and the sun on your face!

The 45th Annual World Championship Snowmobile Watercross (July 15-17, 2022) is truly one of sled racing’s top events. Snowmobiles in multiple classes either drag race across the pond or run multiple laps on top of it, defying gravity and chopping through the waves on machine that, in theory, are supposed to sink, not swim. Friday will include a new IWA Lemans race, where sleds will make left and right turns, followed by a street dance.

The racing action is far more inclusive on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is mainly about qualifying for top spots in a series of heat races. Sunday, the competition in narrowed to exciting finals.

As stated, there will be racing in a number of classes, but the ultimate World Champion of Watercross is determined in the Pro Open Oval class. Through qualifying, the field will be narrowed to six sleds in the final, and they’ll run 8 laps to determine the next champion. Here’s who to watch:

The Big Five

  • David Fischer, No. 36 Polaris — This second generation watercross star has won three of the last four World Championships in this class, and also won in Pro Stock Ovals last year at Grantsburg. He goes in as the man to beat but he proved earlier this summer that he is human, as he sunk in one final.
  • Chris Erzar, No 987 Ski-Doo — The current leader in Pro Open points on the International Watercross Association circuit, this South Dakota-based racer is the one to watch from Team Yellow. He’s off to a great start.
  • Shawn Zurn, No. 76 Polaris — Second to Erzar at the season-opening event in Brainerd and third in points overall, this veteran racer claimed the World Championship title in 2016; a second victory would put him in a storied group.
  • Nick Gustafson, No. 724 Polaris — This Polaris employee ran in one event earlier this season in Pro Stock and finished second, but has yet to show exactly what’s he’s got for a Pro Open sled. Chances are, it’ll be something fast. He was the Semi-Pro Open World Champ way back in 2012.
  • Bryan Zuccaro, No. 476 Ski-Doo — He hasn’t raced yet this year, but he finished fifth in points last year and has won finals on the IWA race circuit before, so he knows how to run up front.

5 Others Of Interest

  • Corey Huls, No. 471 Polaris — This up-and-coming young driver has been racing Pro for a couple years now and earned his first career podium at the season-opening race at Brainerd. Could be a darkhorse.
  • Joe Schellbach, No. 550 Arctic Cat — Those looking for a sled from Team Green to cheer for should focus their attention on Schellbach. He’s been at this awhile and is seeking a breakthrough win.
  • Rachel O’Brien, No. 707, and Karry Simpson, No. 115 — The Pro Open class has two women in the running this year, and each has had some success in heat races this year. Could one advance to the final at Grantsburg? Time will tell.
  • Ben Eastman, No. 999 Polaris — A former Semi-Pro star who bumped up to Pro this year, he’s fifth in points coming into Grantsburg on his flashy star-spangled race sled.
  • Kael Richards, No. 34 Ski-Doo — He has podiumed on the IWA in the past and looked pretty good in his only appearance at Lake Linden a few weeks back.

FYI, a couple of others who may have made the “who to watch” list had not yet signed up for the Grantsburg event when this was being written. We don’t know why Austin McCurdy wasn’t on the list, but he’s a good rider on his Ski-Doo who could easily make the final if he shows up. We’re told that U.P. hotshoes James and Neil Marietta are not coming to Grantsburg after each raced well at Lake Linden.

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