How do the judges set their range?
They watch each heat's practice and decide what a median (50) run is for that heat. This gives them a base to judge each run. Factored into the range are weather conditions and how that affects the riders' runs, the age and skill ranges in the heat and the course layout. Every day is a new and different day. Ranges are adjusted accordingly.
What can negatively affect my ranking?
Minor instabilities can make a big difference in ranking. Within each age group skill levels tend to be similar, so it’s the instabilities that can make large differences in ranking. Hand touch, using hands for stability, butt checks, reverts, speed checks, coming off of a rail/box feature too soon, touch grabs, no grab, knuckled landing, over shot landing, buttered rotations, under rotations, and arm waving for stability are just some of the instabilities that can cause a deduction in ranking.
How can I improve my ranking?
Variety can be a huge factor. Be different. Execute some different grabs and rotations. Don't grab all indy or stale, try a crail or seatbelt. If everyone is spinning 360 maybe try a rewind or make your 3 a late 3. Take a different line through the course. The judges want to see how you can use the course layout to the best of your ability. The judges often see a lot of similar runs through the course of an event and being creative can set you apart from the crowd.
Will using larger/harder features help my ranking?
There are generally different lines in a park. The judges will designate these lines 1 (easy) 2 (mid) 3 (hard). Knowing which features are easy and which are more difficult may help you improve your ranking. It’s important to utilize the most difficult line that you can confidently compete on. This will ensure you get the highest ranking possible.