Stop 'n' Go

Cold Front

When the gondola between Telluride and its Mountain Village base area shut down repeatedly last winter, mechanics were left scratching their hard hats. The gondola was only seven years old, had operated safely for more than 30,000 hours, and had a clean record from the Colorado Tramway Board. Then, during Christmastime, it shut down 33 times—once for more than seven hours. The theories got desperate. "At one point, mechanics thought there were sun spots on the electrical system, says Mountain Village police chief Dale Wood. On New Year's, the mystery was solved. Authorities arrested Alisha Sult, a diminutive 19-year-old gondola employee, charging her with 99 misdemeanor counts for criminal tampering and one felony count for intention to impair a computer system. According to the police report, Sult allegedly turned a switch that caused a voltage drop, and ripped wires out of a relay box. Why the sabotage? Though her case has yet to go to trial, in a March interview with the Telluride Daily Planet, she claimed that she and several other employees had filed sexual harassment charges that were never addressed. (Telluride Mountain Village refuses to comment on the charge.) She also says she has a medical condition that caused her to black out repeatedly.Sult's lawyer, Robert Korn, meanwhile, is taking her defense into Johnny Cochran territory, calling the stoppages "acts of God. "I want to go to trial, he says. "Alisha is a victim of pure scapegoating by this massive company. Sult entered a not-guilty plea in June.—Rob Story