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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Worlds to Test Star Skaters

Michelle Kwan and Yevgeny Plushenko, with eight world titles between them, have kept their competition appearances to a minimum this season.

Now they must be ready for the Figure Skating World Championships.

They will have to contend with the sport's new scoring system, being used for the first time at the competition, which begins in Moscow on Monday.

Kwan, seeking to regain her champion status with a sixth gold medal at the worlds, has showed only at the U.S. championships and two invitationals this year.

Despite the low profile, she appeared strong in practice Sunday, landing her jumps with vigor and assurance.

Plushenko, however, skated cautiously and missed three jumps in a row at the opening of practice. He spent much of the session consulting with coach Alexei Mishin at the rail.

Plushenko, the defending champion, has a long-running groin injury and was reported late Sunday to still be considering whether to compete.

The men's qualifying rounds are Monday.

In recent months, Plushenko complained of being tired of competition. He had to be pressured into the Grand Prix final, where he placed second.

Russians are favorite to win all four events, but Plushenko's absence would wreck any realistic chance of a sweep. Russia's other men, Andrei Gryazev and Sergei Dobrin, are promising but inexperienced.

Kwan's strength in practice indicated another tough challenge for Russia.

Although Irina Slutskaya had a strong season, she may not be fully recovered from the heart lining inflammation that wrecked her previous season.

Kwan's weak spot may be inexperience with the new scoring system, which the International Skating Union adopted last June.

Kwan avoided the Grand Prix series the past two years, missing the trial events for the new system that measures jumps, spins and stepwork, as well as artistic elements such as interpretation and choreography.

In the pairs event, Tatyana Totmianina is set to make a return from injury.

Totmianina crashed to the ice and was knocked unconscious at Skate America in October when partner Maxim Marinin lost his balance on a lift.

In a hospital for a few days with a concussion and bruises, she was back on the ice within two weeks and the pair won the European championships.

The pair's main competition comes from China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, though reports suggest Zhao may be injured.

The last time this competition was held in Russia was in 1903. Russia has taken 24 of 48 world titles since 1993.