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  • Tosha Hanford, above, progressed to the next stage of competition with her ice skating group, Aerial Ice, in the NBC show "America's Got Talent." Courtesy of Tosha Hanford

Elk Grove native, Aerial Ice, hope to hit new heights on NBC show

Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 - 8:47 am

A 25-year-old Elk Grove native and her ice skating group have progressed in NBC's "America's Got Talent" competition and will perform on the show Tuesday in New York.

Before Tosha Hanford and her group, Aerial Ice, hit the big stage at Radio City Music Hall, she wanted to especially praise her family.

Hanford, who has been ice skating since she was 5, said she was pursuing the competition as a way to support her family. The show's grand prize winner will be awarded $1 million.

"If this all pans out, I hope that I'll be able to help them financially in some way," Hanford said. "This is my opportunity to say thank you to them."

Her sister, Marie, is also a skater, and her father, Curtis Hanford, said he didn't regret the money he's spent on his daughters' skating.

"It cost us a lot of money, and I see my daughters and I see the people that they're around, and I wouldn't take a dollar back," said Curtis Hanford, an Elk Grove resident.

Tosha Hanford said one of the biggest challenges has been trying not to worry about her family while tackling the challenge of facing tough competition for her team in the next round.

"I think from the performance side of it and creating something new each time we compete has been challenging," she said.

To accomplish that, the team has been rehearsing for nearly 10 hours a day.

Throughout her career, Hanford has skated on cruise ships and for other ice shows. She met her skating partner and boyfriend, Christopher Trefil, during performances at Great America amusement park in Santa Clara.

The other four members – Kim Navarro, Brent Bommentre, Joel Dear and Angela Kim – had all met previously before forming Aerial Ice, a group that combines ice skating and aerial arts.

"Kim Navarro kind of brought everyone together," Hanford said. "We decided that it was going to be able to happen," Hanford said.

After four months of rehearsing and their first audition, the team moved on to compete for the show's judges.

"We never performed that number together in front of an audience before," Hanford said. "The audience response was a standing ovation, and it was such great feedback."

After that performance, the group went to Las Vegas, where it was decided that they would advance to New York for the current stage of the competition.

"Because ice skating and aerial is such a unique thing, and it hasn't ever been done on 'America's Got Talent,' it was just a great thing to propel us in that direction," Hanford said.

Their next competition will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC.

"There are going to be about 6,000 people in the audience, and the experience of it is just indescribable," Hanford said. She hopes that her parents will be able to cheer her on from up-close if they move on in the competition.

"I said if we make it to the next round, maybe they can come out and be part of the audience and experience it with me," Hanford said.

"I don't know if we're going to be able to afford to go, but I would love to see her," Curtis Hanford said.

Her parents have supported her throughout her skating career. Her mother, Leticia, would also wake up at 3:30 a.m. to drive Tosha and her sister to practice, and throughout the years she made all of Tosha's costumes.

Hanford said she has been accepted to attend UC Davis to major in psychology. She hopes to attend there in the fall with her boyfriend.

Call The Bee's Brittany Torrez, (916) 321-1103. Follow her in Twitter @BrittTorrez.

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