French duo Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron made a strong start to their bid for a sixth consecutive European ice dance title on Thursday by taking a narrow lead after the rhythm dance.
Their reign as European champions is under threat, though, as Papadakis and Cizeron's score of 88.78 points only put them 0.05 points clear of Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov heading into Saturday's free dance.
Papadakis and Cizeron, who secured Olympic silver in 2018 despite Papadakis suffering a wardrobe malfunction, produced a vibrant display in Graz.
But Sinitsina and Katsalapov kept their hopes of denying the French pair a record-equalling sixth gold medal alive.
They bounced back from the disappointment of finishing sixth and last in last month's Grand Prix Final with an excellent routine to "Singin' In The Rain", posting 88.73 points.
Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri sit third, 4.07 points further adrift.
Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov are the only duo to have won six European ice dance titles, between 1970 and 1976 for the Soviet Union.