Viktor Petrenko

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Viktor Petrenko
Petrenko viktor.jpg
Petrenko in 2002.
Personal information
Country representedUkraine
Soviet Union
Born(1969-06-27) 27 June 1969 (age 45)
Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
ResidenceNew Jersey
Height178 cm (5'10")
Former coach

Galina Zmievskaya

Valentyn Nikolayev
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Viktor Petrenko
Petrenko viktor.jpg
Petrenko in 2002.
Personal information
Country representedUkraine
Soviet Union
Born(1969-06-27) 27 June 1969 (age 45)
Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
ResidenceNew Jersey
Height178 cm (5'10")
Former coach

Galina Zmievskaya

Valentyn Nikolayev
Olympic medal record
Men's Figure skating
Competitor for the Unified Team
Gold1992 AlbertvilleSingles
Competitor for the  Soviet Union
Bronze1988 CalgarySingles

Viktor Vasyliovych Petrenko (Ukrainian: Віктор Васильович Петренко; born 27 June 1969) is a Ukrainian former competitive figure skater who represented the Soviet Union, the Unified Team, and Ukraine during his career. He is the 1992 Olympic Champion for the Unified Team. Petrenko became the first flagbearer for Ukraine. Petrenko currently lives in the United States and works as an ISU Technical Specialist, tours professionally, and coaches figure skating.

Early life[edit]

Viktor was born in Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, the first of two sons born to engineers Tamara and Vasyl Petrenko.[1] His younger brother Vladimir Petrenko was also a competitive skater and the 1986 World Junior champion.[2] The Petrenko family spoke Russian which was dominant in Odessa, as well as a means of inter-ethnic communication throughout the USSR. Viktor Petrenko attended a Russian-speaking school where he chose to study English as a foreign language. Because Ukrainian was not used in his family or his school, he never learned to speak the native language of his own country fluently.

Petrenko was often sick as a young child and doctors suggested to his parents that they put him in a sport in order to improve his strength and stamina, so when he was five years old, they took him to the local ice rink and started him in figure skating.[3] At the age of nine, his talent was noticed by Ukrainian figure skating coach Galina Zmievskaya and she took him on as a pupil at Spartak in Odessa.[4]

Competitive career[edit]

For the Soviet Union, Petrenko was the 1984 World Junior Champion[2] and won the bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games.[5] He then went on to win his first two European Championships in 1990 and 1991.[6] After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991,[7] athletes from former Soviet states went to the Olympics together for the last time in 1992 on a Unified Team.[8] Petrenko competed for this Unified Team and with a free skate that was ranked above American Paul Wylie's by seven of the nine judges, he won the gold medal, the first ever for a singles skater from the former Soviet Union.[9] A month later he went to the 1992 World Championships and won the gold medal there, as well, earning two 6.0's for presentation in his free program and receiving first place ranking from all nine judges.[10]

Petrenko turned professional following his Olympic win, moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, but when the International Skating Union ruled that professionals could return to competitive status in 1993, he moved back to Odessa, Ukraine and began training for another Olympics.[11] He won his third European Championships in January 1994, competing for the first time for the independent nation of Ukraine,[12] and went on to represent his homeland at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, where it was widely expected that he, 1988 Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano and World Champion Kurt Browning would be the main challengers for medals. After the short program, Petrenko was in ninth place after stepping out of his triple axel and not completing the rotation on his triple lutz, and Boitano and Browning were in eighth and twelfth, respectively. His performance in the free skate pulled him up to a fourth place finish.

Later life[edit]

In 1992, Petrenko convinced his coach Galina Zmievskaya to take in a 14-year-old Ukrainian orphan named Oksana Baiul and become both her guardian and coach, with Petrenko covering Baiul's expenses. With their guidance, Baiul went on to win the 1993 World Figure Skating Championship and the gold medal at the 1994 Olympic Games.[13][14]

Petrenko married Zmievskaya's oldest daughter, Nina Milken, on 19 June 1992 and their daughter Victoria was born on 21 July 1997.[15] After the 1994 Winter Olympics, Viktor, Nina, Zmievskaya, Baiul and Viktor's brother Vladimir all left Ukraine and moved to Simsbury, Connecticut, where Petrenko and Baiul were invited to train and Zmievskaya and Vladimir Petrenko joined the coaching staff at the new International Skating Center of Connecticut.[16]

In March 2001, Petrenko organized the Viktory for Kids ice show in Simsbury, Connecticut and invited his celebrity friends from the international figure skating community to perform in order to raise public awareness and funds for the thousands of children still being affected by elevated radiation levels from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that had occurred in his homeland of Ukrainian SSR fifteen years earlier. $108,000 was raised, and later that year was used to open The Viktor Petrenko Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Odessa, Ukraine with state-of-the-art medical technology.[17] In October 2003, Petrenko organized a second "Viktory for Kids" show, this time in Danbury, Connecticut. In addition to Petrenko, the show included Olympic champions Ekaterina Gordeeva (with her daughter, Daria Grinkova [Petrenko's goddaughter]), Ilia Kulik, Evgeni Plushenko, Brian Boitano, and Oksana Kazakova / Artur Dimitriev.

In January 2004, Petrenko was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after crashing his car into a utility pole in Connecticut and refusing to take a breathalyzer test.[18] His record was cleared after he completed an adult alcohol education program.[19]

Petrenko, wife Nina and mother-in-law Zmievskaya left the International Skating Center of Connecticut in 2005 and moved to New Jersey, where they all began coaching together at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, New Jersey.[20] They have coached American men's figure skater Johnny Weir since the summer of 2007[21] and they coached Swiss skater Stéphane Lambiel for several months until injury forced his retirement from competitive skating in October 2008.[22][23]

Petrenko toured as a performing skater with the US company of Champions on Ice for a record twenty seasons, until COI went out of business after the 2007 season.[24][25] He is an ISU Technical Specialist for Ukraine[26] and was the Assistant Technical Specialist for the men's event at the 2006 Winter Olympics.[27][28] In June 2008, he was elected to the Presidium of the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation.[29]


SeasonShort programFree skatingExhibition
1993-1994Toreador Song from Carmen
by Georges Bizet
"La donna e mobile" from "Rigoletto,"
by Giuseppe Verdi
"Ah fors e lui" from "La Traviata,"
by Giuseppe Verdi
Baila Mi
by Gipsy Kings
by Georges Bizet
Raymond overture
by Thomas
Le Cid ballet music
by Jules Massenet
Waltz op.64 No.2
by Frédéric Chopin
I Vespi Siciliani overture
by Giuseppe Verdi
Let's Twist Again
by Chubby Checker
1987-1988Flames of Paris
by Boris Asafyev
Don Quixote
by Ludwig Minkus
Ave Maria
by Schubert


Goodwill Games2nd
Skate America3rd2nd2nd1st1st
Skate Canada3rd2nd
Nations Cup2nd1st
NHK Trophy3rd1st1st
Moscow News3rd
St. Ivel2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds1st
Ukrainian Champ.1st
Soviet Champ.3rd2nd2nd2nd2nd1st3rd


  1. ^ "Viktor Petrenko Biography". 
  2. ^ a b "ISU World Junior Figure Skating Champions" (pdf). International Skating Union. 
  3. ^ "Viktor Petrenko: "You want to do something in your life to help other people"". Ukrainian Weekly. April 8, 2001. 
  4. ^ "Petrenko Still Has Golden Touch". December 29, 2008. 
  5. ^ "ISU Olympic Winter Games Figure Skating Results". Retrieved May 12, 2008. 
  6. ^ "ISU European Figure Skating Championships". Retrieved May 12, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Reform, Coup and Collapse: The End of the Soviet State". BBC. 
  8. ^ "Albertville: A United Feeling of Ambivalence". New York Times. February 25, 1992. 
  9. ^ "Petrenko Gets a Gold, Wylie a Silver Surprise". New York Times. February 16, 1992. 
  10. ^ "Petrenko Captures More Gold and Feels on Top of the World". New York Times. March 29, 1992. 
  11. ^ "Figures on Ice; To Petrenko, Olympics Worth More Than Gold". New York Times. February 6, 1994. 
  12. ^ "Figure Skating; Pair Dance a Rumba to Remember". New York Times. January 21, 1994. 
  13. ^ "2007 Profile of Viktor Petrenko". 
  14. ^ "On the Ice with Oksana Baiul; A Skater's Credo: Only Angels Can Fly". New York Times. April 7, 1994. 
  15. ^ "Viktor Petrenko - Chronology". 
  16. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (February 2, 1997). "When Olympic Champions Moved In, They Put Simsbury on the World Map". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Petrenko Skates in Viktory for Kids". 
  18. ^ "Viktor Petrenko Charged with DUI". CBC Sports. January 29, 2004. 
  19. ^ "DUI Charge Cleared if he Completes Program". ESPN. March 15, 2004. 
  20. ^ Petrenko Brings Added Prestige to Ice Vault
  21. ^ "Weir Last US Medal Hope". 
  22. ^ "Patinage artistique: Lambiel change de coach". June 6, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Lambiel announces retirement from skating". IceNetwork. October 16, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Champions on Ice Entering Stage of Transition". Skate Today. May 8, 2007. 
  25. ^ "December 13, 2007". International Figure Skating. 
  26. ^ ISU Communication No. 1467 PDF
  27. ^ "XX Olympic Winter Games 2006 - Men's Short Program: Panel of Judges". Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  28. ^ "XX Olympic Winter Games 2006 - Men's Free Skating: Panel of Judges". Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  29. ^ "Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation". Retrieved August 31, 2008. 

External links[edit]


Olympic Games
Preceded by
honors created
Flagbearer for  Ukraine
Lillehammer 1994
Succeeded by
Andriy Deryzemlya