He may quite literally be the greatest of all time
When Hanyu took the gold at Sochi, he was the first skater to ever earn more than 100 points in the short program. He’s since gone on to break his own world record, which currently stands at 112.72. He also holds the record for free skating with 223.20, and combined total with 330.43. With his 111.68 score on Thursday (an Olympic record), he’s proven to be skating at his best.
If he takes the gold at PyeongChang, he’ll be only the second skater in history to defend a gold medal. The last person to do it was Dick Button, in 1948 and 1952.
His earthquake experience bonded him to his homeland
Hanyu hails from Sendai in northeastern Japan, an area that was devastated by an earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011. He was 16 at the time, and was training when the earthquake struck; it’s said that he ran outside in his skates. When he won at Sochi in 2014, his program was imbued with symbolic meaning for a homeland still in recovery.