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For Yuzuru Hanyu, memories of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the clear, star-filled night sky in the dark hours afterward are an ever-present reminder of the despair and hope the disaster brought.

The Japanese figure skating icon, aiming for a third straight men’s Olympic gold medal next year, was a 16-year-old high school student on March 11, 2011. He was practicing in his hometown of Sendai when the ice beneath his skates was moved violently by the magnitude-9.0 quake.

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