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Florian Kohler Wanted to be a Pilot. ~ Suzanne Smith {Interview.}

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Where did you grow up? Tell me about your home life.

FK: When I was a child I wanted to be a pilot. I grew up in Kingersheim, a small city on the northeast border of France. I was 15 min from Germany and 15 minutes away from Switzerland. I had a normal happy life when I was a kid, usually always in the first three of my class when I was young. It was a nice, peaceful area. I have many friends from my childhood there and I keep in touch every time I have the chance to go back.

I studied a lot during my younger years. I was born in France the 10th of July, 1988, I speak three languages, I am a licensed Optometrist and hold a black belt in Judo.

SS: Tell me about how you got your start in trick shots.

I started trick shots at the age of 18 when I received a small pool table for my birthday. I had no clue how to play since I barely ever touched a cue before, so I checked online to learn and I found trick shot videos. No (pool) instructions were to my liking so to learn I started by doing the shots I saw in videos.

SS: What trick shot artists, if any, have inspired what you do? Why?

Mike Massey and Semih Sayginer. First Semih Sayginer, his style and shot selection are just beautiful. Lots of skill shots, masse, huge curves and new things. Very little props. Mike Massey because he is one of the greatest pool artists of all time and also very entertaining. Mike Massey is also my mentor. Even though we didn’t practice much together, every time we have the opportunity we will play together. Mike comes often to visit me at my parent’s house in France. There he is really happy to play 3 cushion and artistic billiard with me while enjoying the great food. So, Semih for the shot making and the style, Mike for the attitude, the entertainment and the love of the game.

SS: Aside from trick shots, what is your favorite pool game to play? Why?

FK: Straight pool, easily. Like I told you, I am a trick shot player that never learned “real” pool properly, so after I started to get better in trick shots and traveling I faced something very awkward to me: I had to play people after my shows, and at that moment people couldn’t understand why I wasn’t good at pool. No matter if I tried to explain to them that is was two different sports, that bad impression was there. I decided that I should change some things and get better even if I had no love for the game at that moment.

I then forced myself to play a little bit of pool every week and found friends to do so. Of course with my skills I quickly reached an acceptable level, enough to be able to beat three-fourths of the medium players after my shows. But of course I started to love the game and decided to take it to another level.

I then went to Germany about a year ago now and played every weekend there against Martin Schwab, former German champion. All I did was racking in 9 balls and played straight pool with him. Sometimes 10 hours in a row. He loved my attitude of never giving up so he started to give me more advice and taught me some. Shortly I reached a great level and now I can almost play anybody beside pros and not be afraid of being bad. The only trouble I have is since I learned very recently my knowledge is limited so when I play 9 ball, for example, if the table is not a run out, I am missing knowledge to play the correct move safely or I attack the table too much due to trick shots.

Anyway, with straight pool it’s different, not many long shots to play, so even if I don’t practice I can still have fun without missing too many balls. Then you have all the rack to analyze, how to break it, and trick shots can be useful there. So when I am alone and bored with trick shots, I will usually play straight pool. I have a high run of 72 now, and my goal is to reach 100 within a few years. It’s a shame this game isn’t played enough anymore. It’s really a beautiful game.

SS: What are your proudest moments in your career? Please describe the sensations you went through when they occurred, anything that stands out about them in your mind now, looking back.

FK: The first Venom DVD was definitely a highlight in my life, everything went better than expected and my skill and creativity were perfect that moment. It’s a sensation of “you can accomplish everything.”

Then it’s been a few others: That one time in Korea I played with Semih Sayginer on TV. He kicked my ass in 3 cushions but I beat him in the trick shot event, which was insane for me at that moment. Then there was the Juanjo Artistic Cup where I beat all those legends on the billiard table such as Mike Massey, Roberto Rojas, Miguel Torres… Great feeling!

The first Artistic Cup I won in the USA was awesome as well, but I think the most awesome moment was last year’s World Cup of Trick Shots. I am the last player to shoot for Team Europe. USA just made their last shot to tie. So if I miss it’s a tie and a sudden death on the dollar bill, which is pretty much a lottery. Anyway, I made the shot under huge pressure. I remember it like yesterday: jumps on the rail, alternating hands. It was pure joy with all the team coming up to me and cheering. One of the greatest moment in my pool career for sure

SS: Tell me about your goals and dreams for the future. What are your thoughts on the current state of pool in general, and the trick shot realm specifically.

FK: My goals are multiple but I mainly follow one, which is to make pool more universal by modernizing the discipline of trick shots. Trick shots have been the same for the last 60 years, but now with all the new cues and materials, we can take it to a new extreme. I think, just like skateboarding in the ‘90s, we can come up with a brand new and extreme trick shot discipline that would fit more the new generations. Pool and trick shots have been, for some political reason, stopped in their evolution, which has brought them to the state they are in now: Pretty much dying. Like every other sport, pool has to evolve, but unfortunately some people—especially in trick shots—either refused this evolution or acted only in their own interests. You honestly have no idea of what is going on backstage and how other players will try to destroy your career just by pure jealousy or by fear that the new things you bring will make you better.

Not only that, but the decrease of our prize money also forbids more players to get better. Nobody wants to play in a tournament coming from Europe when first place is $1000. That not only prevents new players from showing up, but it also serves the local players governing our sport by keeping them on top of the ranking. Take it that way, how am I supposed to become number one in the world if I have to fly from France for an event, and even if I win lose money? Of course there is no way. I think that’s the biggest trouble of our sport right now. Trick shot competitions are already rare but by doing such things, it will lead to the death of our sport while actually we need the exact contrary…

So considering these elements, I already know that I will have to travel more and more distances for competition and build my own path to promote our sport and myself.

SS: Tell me about your sponsors, people that have supported you on your journey, anyone you would care to thank or mention.

FK: I am lucky enough to be supported by a few of the best brands in the pool industry. Some of them saw potential in me early enough when I was just making videos in my room and I always kept them since that day. I am thinking of Mezz that supported me with cues at a very early stage as well as Kamui. With the extreme power I apply to my cue, that was a great relief not to have to pay thousands in material anymore. Then came Simonis, supplying me with the best felt on the planet and my skills got even better.

Recently I signed with Rasson and Delta 13.

Rasson is probably the most serious pool company I know in China. They have given more support and trust than any other company and our relationship works perfectly. We are usually the most crowded booth at the GBE in China. Not only they are serious but their material is super quality and beautiful. Lastly I teamed up withDelta 13, which is hands down the best triangles on the market. I have been using them before I even signed with them. It’s definitely a must have for every trick shot artist—these triangles are not only beautiful but also super solid. Again, great support from their staff who support my creative side and keep me alive to follow my dreams.

All these five sponsors have also sponsored my new project, Venom Trick Shots II. This TV show is now done and we are negotiating its airing on the big networks such as ESPN, CCTV and Eurosport. It will be available in VOD and DVD as well. This project took more than a year and is probably the highest budget for a trick shot video so prepare to be amazed.

Here is a clip for you to enjoy!

Editor: Marcee Murray King

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