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Whistler biker Alex "Pro" Prochazka identified as Stanley Cup rioter

Actions cause sponsor Oakley to drop support for pro mountain biker



A Whistler mountain biker and pro skier has issued a statement after he was identified in a social media sweep of participants in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver.

Alex "Pro" Prochazka, a professional mountain biker and skier, was pictured standing in front of a burning truck in a photo that ran in the National Post .

Other pictures also appear show him with his hand on the wheel of the truck as the crowd flipped it over and videos have surfaced that show him at the scene of the truck before it was tipped and then celebrating as the truck went over.

He responded by writing a letter on his Facebook page, which has been reposted to other mountain bike sites, to say he had no part in the burning of the truck and to apologize for his lack of judgment in posing for the photo and not leaving the area.

When reached by the Pique he offered this statement:

"I am extremely sorry about the negative light that has been cast on my community, my family and my many supporters in Whistler and everywhere else due to my highly publicized actions during the Vancouver riot. I sincerely apologize for what I did. More importantly, my thoughts are with the indirect victims of that riot. I promise all of you that I will do everything I can to make amends and be the best person I can be."

Parents Claire and Tom Prochazka also thanked the people that have reached out to support the family.

"We would like to thank those folks who have reached out to us with words of support during this stressful time. A few kind words amongst the negative can go a long way."

Prochazka is sponsored by Oakley, among others, and was wearing an Oakley T-shirt at the time. Posts on Oakley Canada's Facebook page immediately called for a boycott of the company's products unless they pulled his sponsorship, and on Tuesday the company announced that they were ending their long association with Prochazka.

"Oakley does not condone or support the actions taken by Alex Prochazka," said Oakley Canada on its Facebook page. "And as a result of his behaviour, Oakley Canada has elected to end its association with Alex Prochazka effective immediately."

Through Facebook and Tumblr, dozens of people have been identified committing acts of vandalism, violence and even theft. In one case, a 17-year-old rioter by the name of Nathan Kotylak who was photographed setting fire to a police vehicle -was suspended from the national junior water polo team and could lose his scholarship to the University of Calgary.

He has waived his right to anonymity as a young offender, and on Monday made a tearful apology with his parents at his side.

Hundreds of photos and videos, sometimes with information on rioters, have been forwarded to the Vancouver Police Department, which has so far made 117 arrests - most of them at the riot itself.

A 30-person police unit has been created to identify and prosecute rioters that were responsible for the damage, fighting and looting.

But while some are celebrating the vigilante justice of social networking, some of the people involved - or who claimed to be involved - have been attacked publicly and many have received threats. Some have been suspended from school or fired by their employers, prompting some commentators to question whether the social networks have gone too far in punishing many people that would otherwise be charged privately with minor offences.

Prochazka, 20, is a unique figure in the extreme sports world - a pro mountain bike freerider by summer and a pro skier in the winter months.

There's been no word on the total costs of the damage from the riots, although at least 14 vehicles were destroyed and hundreds of storefronts damaged or broken into. It's expected that it will take years to figure out the costs once all the court costs are taken into consideration, although some estimates suggest that the damage to stores alone will be over $4 million.

On top of the dozens of people being identified through social networking, ICBC has offered to use facial recognition software that would compare photos taken at the riot to the insurance company's database of drivers' licences.

This isn't the first riot to hit Vancouver. The city's history also includes the 1994 riot when the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the New York Rangers. The total cost of damage from that riot is estimated in the $2 million range.