Elena Bechke

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Elena Betchke
Jelena Betschke und Waleri Kornjenko.jpg
Personal information
Full nameElena Yurievna Betchke
Alternative namesYelena Bechke
Elena Betchke
Country representedOlympic flag.svg Unified Team
 Soviet Union
Born (1966-01-07) 7 January 1966 (age 53)
Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height1.58 m (5 ft 2 in)
Former partnerDenis Petrov
Valery Kornienko
Former coachTamara Moskvina
Former choreographerAlexander Matveev
Valeri Pecherski
Olympic medal record
Representing the  Unified Team
Figure skating
Silver medal – second place 1992 Albertville Pairs

Elena Yurievna Bechke (Russian: Елена Юрьевна Бечке; born 7 January 1966) is a Russian former pair skater. She competed for the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Unified Team. With partner and then-husband Denis Petrov, she is the 1992 Olympic silver medalist, the 1989 World bronze medalist, and the 1991 and 1992 European silver medalist.


As a young skater, Bechke was told by her coaches that she had no talent and that she should quit skating.[citation needed] She did not give up and skated with Valery Kornienko from 1979 to 1987. Their notable competitions included a gold medal at the inaugural pairs event of the 1984 Skate Canada International, as well as the 1986 European Championships, where they won the bronze.[1]

Bechke began skating with Denis Petrov, two years her junior, in 1987. They trained with Tamara Moskvina[2] at the Yubileyny Sports Palace in Saint Petersburg. They won their first international title at the 1988 Grand Prix International de Paris, although they missed the 1988 Olympic team as they finished fourth at the Soviet Figure Skating Championships. Their first appearance at the Worlds was at the 1989 World Championships. Again, Bechke and Petrov had finished fourth and initially did not qualify for the Soviet Worlds team, but they won a skate-off to replace an injured team. They captured the bronze medal at their first Worlds showing, but they again placed fourth at the Soviet Nationals in 1990, missing the World Championships. In 1991, they placed third at the Nationals and fourth at the Worlds. In 1992, they won the Soviet Nationals over the teams of Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov and Marina Eltsova and Andrei Bushkov (Bechke and Petrov's training partners and chief rivals, Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev, missed the Nationals but qualified for the Olympics as they were the reigning World Champions). Bechke and Petrov also won silver medals at the 1991 and 1992 European Championships, and the silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games behind Mishkutenok and Dmitriev.[3] Their choreographer was Alexander Matveev.[2] They retired from amateur competition after the 1992 Worlds.

Bechke and Petrov's moderate success as amateurs stemmed from Bechke's inconsistency in competition due to her nerves, as well as many uninspiring (and some downright questionable) competitive programs, such as the infamous "Dialogue of Cats," created by their coach that did little to showcase their talents. After turning professional in 1992, the pair steadily improved as competitors and performers, and were regarded by many as one of the best professional pairs teams of their time. They won every single competition they entered in 1996, including the World Professional Championships. They placed second at their last World Professional Championships, in 1999.

They toured with Stars on Ice for seven years (1994–2000).[4] They resided and trained as professionals in Lake Placid, New York, before relocating to Richmond, Virginia, in 1997 to train and coach there. Bechke retired from skating after the 1999–2000 season, while Petrov continued to skate with Stars on Ice for another two seasons.

As both amateurs and professionals, Bechke and Petrov were known for their exquisite posture and lines, inventive moves (such as the "Impossible" death spiral), great unison and proximity on their jumps and side-by-side spins, as well as many difficult and intricate lift sequences.

Personal life[edit]

Bechke is of Hungarian descent on her father's side (the Hungarian spelling of her last name being Becske). Her Hungarian heritage is reflected in two professional programs with Petrov: Joue Jusqu'au Matin (1997-1998) to a medley of songs by Hungarian Gypsy composer Yoska Nemeth, and Czardas by Leahy (1999-2000).

Bechke and Petrov began dating in 1988, were married in 1990, but divorced in 1995. In Steve Milton's book, Skate Talk, Bechke has said that while the marriage was not one of "convenience" (as was many times the case in the USSR), she did feel pressured by her parents to get married as she was getting "so old." Bechke and Petrov remained best friends and both said that their skating and friendship improved after the divorce. They even continued vacationing together after ending their off-ice relationship.

Bechke married Wayne Ellis in 2001. They have a son, Alex, born in 2002, and a daughter, Sophia, born in 2004. As of 2009, she is a coach in North Carolina.[5]


(with Petrov)

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
1999–2000 Czardas
by Leahy

by Georgy Sviridov

1998-1999 Eva
by Andrei Petrov

by Franz Liszt

1997-1998 Joue Jusqu’au Matin
traditional; Yoska Nemeth

Whole Lotta Love
by Led Zeppelin
by Franz Liszt

1996-1997 Romance
by Anton Rubinstein

The Lady and the Hooligan
by Dmitri Shostakovich
On the Beautiful Blue Danube/Radetzky March
by Josef Strauss
Russian Dance

1995-1996 When You Tell Me That You Love Me
by Diana Ross

by Aram Khachaturian

1994-1995 Limelight
from the Charlie Chaplin movie

Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson and Delilah
by Camille Saint-Saëns
I Masnadieri
by Giuseppe Verdi
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond
trad.; Red Army Choir

1993-1994 Morning Mood from Peer Gynt
by Edvard Grieg

Grand Pas de deux from The Nutcracker
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Wabash Blues
by Isham Jones
Once Upon a Dream
from the Jekyll & Hyde musical
I Masnadieri
by Giuseppe Verdi

1992-1993 Grand Pas de deux from The Nutcracker
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Wabash Blues
by Isham Jones
Yellow Submarine
by The Beatles (instrumental)
Once Upon a Dream
from the Jekyll & Hyde musical
I Masnadieri
by Giuseppe Verdi

1991-1992 Milord
by Edith Piaf (instrumental)
Grand Pas de deux from The Nutcracker
by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
I Masnadieri
by Giuseppe Verdi
1990–1991 Money, Money, Money
(ABBA) performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
1989-1990 The Dialogue of Cats
by Gioachino Rossini

by Nino Rota
by Nino Rota

Competitive highlights[edit]

With Petrov[edit]

Event 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92
Olympics 2nd
Worlds 3rd 4th 4th
Europeans 2nd 2nd
Goodwill Games 3rd
Int. de Paris 1st 1st 3rd
Moscow News 6th 2nd
Nations Cup 1st
NHK Trophy 2nd 1st 1st
St. Ivel 2nd
Soviet Champ. 4th 4th 4th 3rd 1st
USSR Cup 2nd 1st
Event 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
World Pros 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd
US Open Pro 2nd 1st 1st 1st
Challenge of Champions 4th 2nd 3rd 3rd 1st
ESPN Pro 1st
Jefferson Pilot Pro 2nd
Canadian Professional Championships 1st
Miko Masters 1st
Metropolitan Open 3rd
North American Open 3rd

With Kornienko[edit]

Event 80–81 81–82 82–83 83–84 84–85 85–86 86–87
European Champ. 3rd
Skate America 2nd
Skate Canada 1st
Int. St. Gervais 1st
Moscow News 3rd 3rd 3rd 2nd
Nebelhorn Trophy 1st
Prague Skate 2nd 2nd
Universiade 2nd
Soviet Champ. 6th 3rd 4th 5th
Spartakiada 2nd
USSR Cup 5th 2nd 1st 2nd


  1. ^ "Elena Bechke / Valery Kornienko". Pairs on Ice. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007.
  2. ^ a b Janofsky, Michael (12 February 1992). "ALBERTVILLE; No Longer Soviet Skaters, But They Are Still the Best". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Yelena Bechke". Sports-Reference.
  4. ^ "Elena Bechke / Denis Petrov". Pairs on Ice. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  5. ^ Chen Lu Married Denis Petrov, Posted By: Judy Tseng, accessed 20 July 2006.

External links[edit]