14-time Estonian champion: "The biggest change is waking up happy every morning!"

Speed, adrenaline, constant attention from the audience, traveling, and exciting competitions around the world - that's the daily life of Kirill Tarassov, a 14-time Estonian champion. How did he become a professional cyclist? What is XCE? And why did Kirill feel the need to come to KSA Eye Center to achieve even better results? Read more in this new blog story.

Kirill Tarassov is only 25 years old, but he can already say that he is a 14-time Estonian champion and has achieved great things worldwide. He started with cycling at the age of 8 when he confidently told his mother that he wanted to pursue BMX cycling. "At that moment, my mother didn't understand what I was talking about and simply took me to cycling training at Kalev Cycling School in Pirita," Kirill recalls with a laugh. "But once I was there, I thought I would give it a try because I immediately liked the atmosphere of the club," Kirill says. A few years later, when he experienced the feeling of victory, he knew he wanted to continue with this sport and fully dedicate himself to it. Thus, Kirill stuck with cycling, and now he has been riding for 18 years.

XCE - an exciting sport that allows you to see the world

For years, Kirill had primarily focused on road cycling until he showed remarkable results in mountain biking in Estonia in 2022, becoming the Estonian champion in mountain bike short track racing. One thing led to another, and Kirill soon received an invitation to join Trey MTB Team and participate in XCE, which stands for Cross-country Eliminator. "I also really enjoy road cycling, but my true passion has always been tearing through the trails on a mountain bike. So, this invitation felt like a perfect fit, and I felt like I was in the right place now!" Kirill says.

Mis asi aga on keerulise nimega XCE ehk väljalangemissõit? Palusime Kirillil selgitada nii, et ka kõige jalgrattaspordi kaugemad inimesed saaksid aru, millega tegemist on. „Väljalangemissõit on maastikuratta ala, mis on kiire ja publikule mõeldud spordiala. Sõidud toimuvad üldjuhul linna tänavatel ja rajad on ehitatud nii, et pealtvaatajale oleks näha suurem osa rajast ja rajal oleksid alati võistlejad. Kõik algab kvalifikatsioonist, kus sõidetakse välja individuaalsed kohad, mille järgi pannakse paika pingerida. Pärast seda jagatakse sportlased 4-liikmelistesse puntidesse, kust edasi saavad kaks sportlast, kes veerevad esimesena üle joone. Nii, järjest kahekaupa konkurente välja langetades, jõutaksegi võitja selgumiseni,“ selgitab ta.

But what exactly is XCE, the sport with the complicated name? We asked Kirill to explain it in a way that even those unfamiliar with cycling can understand. "Cross-country Eliminator is a mountain biking discipline that is fast-paced and designed for the audience. The races usually take place on city streets, and the tracks are built so that spectators can see most of the course, and there are always riders on the track. It all starts with qualifications, where individual positions are determined to establish the ranking. Then the athletes are divided into groups of four, and from there, two athletes advance by crossing the finish line first. By eliminating competitors in pairs, the winner is determined," he explains.

When we asked Kirill what achievements he is most proud of, he didn't hesitate for long. "I am definitely most proud of my recent performance in India. It was an UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup race, where I achieved a high 7th place. What made me particularly proud was the fact that I had just recovered from COVID-19, and the race took place at an altitude of nearly 4000 meters. It happened several times that some riders needed additional oxygen and medical assistance during the race," Kirill recalls the significant challenge. "The first riders arrived five days before the start and had time to train and acclimatize. Unfortunately, I arrived only a day before the competition. Fortunately, I managed to turn things in my favor, and I'm extremely satisfied with the 7th place!" he remembers.

Myopia + cycling = flying lenses

Kirill has been wearing glasses since first grade, so nearsightedness has accompanied him throughout his sports career. "The biggest inconvenience was definitely during competitions. Even though I wore contact lenses, I still couldn't see sharply enough, and I always felt that I had less time to react. Additionally, bad weather conditions always made me uncertain – due to wind or rain, I have repeatedly lost my contact lenses during races," he recalls.

The final push for Kirill to undergo laser eye surgery came from his desire to become even better in his sport. "Since XCE is a very short race, every second, and even millisecond, counts. I realized that improving my vision would give me the opportunity to develop in sports and improve my quality of life. It's like achieving two victories at once!" Kirill explains. He chose KSA Eye Center because, in his words, the clinic has always been well-regarded for its punctual work and reliable results. "In addition, many of my friends have had their vision corrected at KSA, and I had only heard positive feedback about the clinic," he recalls.

The day of the laser procedure went exactly as the KSA staff had explained to Kirill. "Of course, I was a little nervous, but I knew that I had done everything possible that the doctors recommended to ensure the procedure went smoothly. The procedure itself was really quick, and after some time, I was already back home. Since I had been through intense training sessions, I took some time off, rested, and slept through most of the first day of recovery," Kirill describes his experience.

Kirill at the KSA Eye Center after the Flow 2.0 laser procedure

Great vision wins crucial seconds in sports

According to Kirill, the recovery process went very smoothly. "I only felt discomfort for a couple of days, and I did my first training session a week after the laser procedure." It has been three months since Kirill had the laser procedure, and "new" vision has become a daily companion. "The biggest change is definitely waking up happy every morning. I no longer need to put on glasses to see clearly; now I see perfectly with my own eyes," Kirill expresses his happiness. The difference is also noticeable in cycling. "Since I have already recovered enough and done the first rides, I have felt a tremendous difference in bike control. I can see every small detail, and it has already taken me to the next level," Kirill is satisfied.

"To be honest, I didn't understand before why people who had undergone laser procedures spoke so enthusiastically about it. It seemed somewhat exaggerated. But now, having experienced this change myself, I can confidently say that the improvement in quality of life is incredible! If you have ever considered laser eye surgery, just go ahead and do it!" Kirill recommends.

When we asked about Kirill's goals in cycling for the future, he responded, "I want to give everything I can to keep the Estonian flag flying even higher in upcoming competitions!" We have no doubt that Kirill will do that. We wholeheartedly support him, wish him success, and hope that with his focus in place, there are no limits to his achievements!

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