Skating for the Soviet Union, Petrenko was the 1984 World Junior Champion and won the bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. He went on to win his first two European Championships in 1990 and 1991.
Petrenko competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Olympics Games in Albertville, France, where he won the gold medal, the first ever for a singles skater from the former Soviet Union. A month later he won the 1992 World Championships.
Petrenko turned professional following his Olympic win, moving to Las Vegas, Nev., 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. He won his third European Championships in January 1994, competing for the first time for Ukraine, and went on to represent his homeland at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. A brilliant free skate pulled him up from ninth to a fourth-place finish.
Petrenko married Zmievskaya's oldest daughter, Nina Milken, on June 19, 1992. After the 1994 Winter Olympics, Viktor, Nina and Zmievskaya moved to Simsbury, Conn., to train and coach at the International Skating Center of Connecticut.
They left Connecticut in 2005 and moved to New Jersey, where they began coaching at the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, N.J. They have coached Johnny Weir since the start of the 2007-08 season. In the summer of 2008, Swiss skater Stephane Lambiel became their pupil.
Petrenko toured with "Champions on Ice" for 20 years. He is an ISU technical specialist and was the assistant technical specialist for the men's event at the 2006 Winter Olympics.